God made his work the work of reconciliation, and made it our work, too. Having been forgiven ourselves, we are given the mission of bringing God’s reconciliation to a world very much in need of it.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
As Catholics, we believe that God made everything good, and everyone good. As a function of our human condition and the sinful condition of the world (original sin), we can become distant from God through misunderstanding, through hurts that we receive, through our own sinfulness. But, God wants no distance from us, and became human so that we could encounter God’s reconciliation first hand. Jesus reconciled us with his teaching, healing, dying and rising–and he told us to do the same.
In the Gospel, we hear the famous story of the Prodigal Son. This boy asked for whatever he would inherit when his father would have died (basically told him that he just wasn’t dying fast enough for his taste) which took away from the whole income of his family. He left his parents and home and wasted everything that he was given. Because he ran out of money and had no way of supporting himself, he decided that he would go home. Instead of holding a grudge, punishing him or taking him on as a slave, as the boy suggested to his father, the father welcomed him back and restored him to his original place in the family. He even threw a party because his son–who hurt everyone in the family–had come home. The father didn’t even wait for an apology to welcome his son. In fact, we hear that the father was looking for him to return every day. He never stopped loving his son and wanted to have him back safe.
This is how God loves us. No matter how badly we might behave, God is waiting for us to come back–wanting nothing but for us to know that we are loved and forgiven so that we can be who God meant us to be–beloved children with whom God shares his inheritance.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
The older brother in today’s Gospel was angry that the little brother was welcomed back and refused to go to his party. How would you feel if you were the older brother? How would you feel if you were the younger brother and your older brother wouldn’t forgive you?
Today’s second reading says that we are meant to be “ambassadors for Christ.” It also says that the way we do that is to help people to be reconciled. What need for reconciliation do you see in the lives of the people you know? What relationships are broken–family, friends, our country’s politics, the way we view the poor? What can you do to be a representative for God in these areas?
Consider the story of the Prodigal Son from a parent’s perspective. In light of the second reading, are there any differences between the way you would feel and the way you would be called to respond to the son who hurt your family the way this son did?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”