March 6, 2021
Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Readings for Today
“Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.” Luke 15:22–24
This was the reaction of the faithful son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Recall that after squandering his inheritance, the Prodigal Son returns home humiliated and poor, asking his father if he will take him back and treat him as if he were a hired hand. But the father surprises him and throws a huge party for the son to celebrate his return. But the father’s other son, the one who remained with him throughout the years, would not join in the celebration.
Was it fair that the father killed the fatted calf and threw this large party to celebrate his wayward son’s return? Was it fair that that same father apparently never even gave his faithful son a young goat to feast on with his friends? The right answer is that this is the wrong question.
It’s easy for us to live in such a way that we always want things to be “fair.” And when we perceive that another receives more than us, we can get angry and bitter. But asking whether or not this is fair is not the right question. When it comes to the mercy of God, God’s generosity and goodness far exceed what is perceived as fair. And if we are to share in the abundant mercy of God, we too must learn to rejoice in His superabundant mercy.
In this story, the act of mercy given to his wayward son was exactly what that son needed. He needed to know that no matter what he had done in the past, his father loved him and rejoiced in his return. Therefore, this son needed an abundance of mercy, partly to reassure him of his father’s love. He needed this extra consolation so as to become convinced that he made the right choice in returning.
The other son, the one who had remained faithful throughout the years, was not treated unfairly. Rather, his discontent came from the fact that he himself lacked the same abundant mercy present in the heart of his father. He failed to love his brother to the same extent and, therefore, failed to see the need to offer this consolation to his brother as a way of helping him understand he was forgiven and welcomed back. Mercy is very demanding and far exceeds what we may at first perceive as rational and just. But if we desire to receive mercy in abundance, we must be ready and willing to offer it to those who need it the most.
Reflect, today, upon how merciful and generous you are willing to be, especially toward those who do not appear to deserve it. Remind yourself that the life of grace is not about being fair; it’s about being generous to a shocking extent. Commit yourself to this depth of generosity toward all and look for ways that you can console another’s heart with the mercy of God. If you do, that generous love will also bless your heart in abundance.
My most generous Lord, You are compassionate beyond what I can fathom. Your mercy and goodness far exceed what any of us deserve. Help me to be eternally grateful for Your goodness and help me to offer that same depth of mercy to those in most need. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday