40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week IV-C, 31 March 2019
Joshua 5:9,10-12///2Corinthians 5:17-21///Luke 15:1-3,11-32
Sin can be mysterious at times because it can also be a religious experience that leads us back to God and holiness. We have a saying that “every saint has a sinful past and every sinner can have a saintly future.” So many men and women who were so notorious in their lives have proven this so true like St. Paul and St. Augustine.
After reflecting on the call for conversion last Sunday, our gospel today tells us a lot about the nature of sin. Unless we understand what is sin and why we sin, then we get imprisoned by sin as we keep on committing it no matter how hard we try to be better persons. But once we understand even a little bit of it, its hows and whys, then we sin less often as we slowly break free from its bondage.
“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.”Luke 15:11-12
Sin is when we separate from the Father like the younger son when we ask for our “share of your estate that should come to me” referring to that part of this whole life only God can have in its fullness. We always have the idea that it must be so vast and huge that even just a part of it would be more than enough for us. We want to be on our own that we break away from Him, thinking wrongly that the share we have is more than enough for us without truly realizing how great and so vast is the Father’s estate which is life itself!
And so it happens, we break away from God and live on our own that sooner or later, our share dissipates until we lose everything.
This estate, this very life of God will never be gone like Him, will never diminish nor dissipate. We shall always have it, enjoy it for as long as we are with Him, our loving Father! This is also the point of the Father to the elder son when he refused to join their celebration when his younger brother returned. Life, love, kindness, family, everything that is good dissipates when held individually away from God. But when we share it with the Father through Christ, it is like the river that never runs dry.
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need… And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.Luke 15:14,16
Sin always gives us the sense of “freedom” like the young son who “freely spent everything”. There is always that wrong understanding of freedom as the ability to do everything and anything, feeling that everything in this life is ours alone. Freedom is first of all choosing what is truly good. To be free is to be loving, being a part of the whole and never separated from the whole. To be truly free is always to be one. This explains why when we are deep into sin and all alone, separated from others, we suddenly long to be one with others. The sense of belonging suddenly pops up within us because we find ourselves incomplete when in sin.
“My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”
Here lies the problem also with the elder son who has always been present with their father but had never been one with him, never belonging to him. He is guilty of “sin of omission” when he felt nothing seems to be wrong with him as he breaks no rules of their father – except their relationship and ties. The apostle James wrote in his letter that “a person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by own desire” (Jas.1:14). Sin is always the desire to be sufficiently alone, to be powerful, to be God! See how since the beginning, we have never outgrown that sin of Adam and Eve of becoming like God, of playing god.
My dear sisters and brothers, like Paul in our second reading today, let us be reconciled to God in Christ. To be reconciled is to be one, to belong, to become a part again of God. In the dryness and desolation of sin like the desert in the experience of Joshua and the Hebrew people, God continues to bless us with so many gifts, so many blessings. The two brothers in the parable are both sinners but loved by their father. And so are we.
More than avoiding sins, our gospel parable this Sunday invites us to love God more by seeking His will always. Yes, we have all been hurt by someone else’s sins and we have also caused pain on others with our sins. Let us focus more on this vast gift of life and love expressed in God’s mercy and forgiveness that no sin could ever diminish. And the good news is that it is all free and totally being given to us by Jesus Christ especially in our Sunday Eucharist. A blessed week to you!
*All images from Google.