Sinful as we are, we need God’s forgiveness

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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD September 11, 2022 / 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image source: Wikimedia Commons / The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt (1606-69)

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15, 11-32) of this Sunday, Bible scholars say that the story of the “Prodigal Son” is a misnomer. It should be called the Parable of the “Prodigal Father” because the whole story depicts the astonishing, over-bending love of the father on his wayward son.

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This love begins when the father reluctantly yielded to the wish of his son who insisted to be free by getting his inheritance and breaking away from home.

Although the father knew the danger that lay ahead, he let him go. This gives us an insight into God’s love. For love to be true it must be freely given; it cannot be forced.

* * *

After the profligate son had spent all his patrimony in “loose living,” he was despondent, broken, abandoned.

Then the son came to his senses. For the first time he realized what a big mistake he had made. He says to himself, “I will arise and go to my father.” So, he returned home.

What did the father do when he saw him coming? Instead of giving a severe tongue-lashing, he ran and threw his arms around his errant son and kissed him; then welcomed him with a lavish party.

* * *

The loving father in the story represents God and the wayward son is every one of us sinners. Christ is saying that after even the most stupid of mistakes or the most degrading of sins, God is waiting for us to return to him.

What’s most important is to be sorry, repent and ask forgiveness.

* * *

All great saints had gone through the above experience. Simon Peter had lied that he ever knew his Master and abandoned him in his darkest moment.

The fiery Saul (St. Paul) supervised the execution of the early Christians; Augustine led a worldly life of sins. These and numerous other saints had repented, and never looked back, dedicating their whole lives working for the Lord.

In regard to Augustine, he bargained with the Lord, saying, “Lord, make me chaste but not yet”; later, however, he said: “Too late have I known You, O Lord.”

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Think about it. If we don’t go to the Lord to ask forgiveness, to whom do we go? The only alternative is Lucifer and his “hell’s angels.”

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Aside from asking forgiveness, it’s expected that we reform, that is, to change our life of vices, corrupt practices, pride, selfishness. Human and imperfect as we are, however, we backslide, returning to our old self. But God will always take us back, like the benevolent father in the parable, if we sincerely exert effort to reform.

As Pope Francis said: “God never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we who get tired of asking forgiveness from Him.”

* * *

Let us avail of the opportunity to return to our “prodigal” Father. All that’s needed are acceptance of our sins and confess them in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The effect of forgiveness is a deep sense of joy, peace of soul, and eternal salvation.

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TEMPTATION. Once a class teacher asked, “Ano ang pangalan ng pinakamalakas na bagyo?” Dante raised his hand and said: “Tukso po.” Taken aback, the teacher said: “Bakit tukso?” Dante, quoting the song “Tukso,” said: “Kasi po kay dami ng winasak na tahanan, kay dami ng matang pinaluha at kay dami ng pusong sinugatan.”

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For the record, the culprit that causes enormous damage is not temptation (tukso) but SIN. Temptation is an incitement or attraction to do evil. Even Jesus was tempted.

The song “Tukso” adds, “O tukso, layuan mo ako” (Temptation, get away from me). But temptation will never go away. Rather you should be the one to run away from temptation. (Dapat ikaw na ang lumayo sa tukso).


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