Gospel Reading and Thoughts for September 15, 2013

Gospel – Luke 15:1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Then he said,
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,Prodigal son
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘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.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

We all know the story of the prodigal son – we could probably retell the story to our children with no problem.  But why is Jesus telling us this story?  To let us know that he would welcome us back if we strayed?  Absolutely!  And every time we feel distant from God, he is always willing to welcome us back to a closer relationship with him – enriching our prayer-life, filling our days with joy, and celebrating in our hearts that we have come back into his graces.

 What if we are the older brother – that stays behind to try to serve the father.  I think that when we try to follow God’s will daily, we can sometimes forget that He is with us always.   He loves us so much that he rejoices that we are with him everyday – do we take his rejoicing for granted like the older son?  

I feel like in reading this parable, I seem to be the prodigal son every day!
I wake up every morning with the intent to read a Bible passage to focus me in my day.
Sometimes I actually have time, but other times the kids wake up earlier than I expect
and that morning devotion falls by the wayside.  Then the demands of the day – the kids’
activities, my household tasks, keeping little ones entertained and fed all day – and it’s
only mealtimes that I actually talk to God in prayer.  Finally at the end of the day, after
all is quiet and the little ones are in bed, I remember God’s blessings in my life.
And I return to His love in prayer and like the Prodigal son, feel his compassion and love for me. 

 Lord, help us to feel the Holy Spirit alive in our hearts – whether we are already close to you or we are trying to get nearer to your will.

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