Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
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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 Jesus addressed this parable. “A man had two sons…”
This is so unfair. The scribes and Pharisees were complaining about Jesus, again. This time they accused him of welcoming sinners and eating with them. That’s not entirely true, however. The Lord didn’t “welcome” sinners; He reached out to sinners.
Regardless, these men of the cloth must of felt unfairly treated. After all, if Jesus was a religious man, then why wouldn’t he be more like them: hanging out with them and preaching to the choir?
Life can be so complicated.
Anyways, the stage was set for one of the most beautiful parables the world has ever heard. The Prodigal Son.
A man had two sons. The Lord starts off his rebuttal with a parable revolving a family – a father and his two sons. This is highly significant, for He is making it clear to all his listeners that they are much more than one big village. They are one big family.
One big village is the least of who we are. One big family is the truth of who we are.
All Jews are one big family. And in this one big family there is one father (God) and two types of Jews: the observant and the rebellious. The Father treats all his children the same way: with unconditional love and mercy. This is so unfair!
The young son is welcomed back. The story begins with the youngest son demanding his share of the inheritance. With great sadness, the father gives him what he asks for. Soon after, the son collects his belongings and leaves the family. After freely spending all that he had and realizing his grave mistake, the son makes the long journey back to his father’s house. Upon the boys arrival, he is greeted by his father’s hugs and kisses. With that, the home is filled with the sound of music, music that reaches the ears of the older son.
With understandable anger and disbelief, the older boy goes over to his father to complain. How can this be? I have been faithful to you like no one else! I have never disobeyed you and never once stolen from you. And now you are throwing a party as if this loser son of yours got all A’s on his report card! This is not fair. This is totally unjust. You get what you deserve. Fair is fair.
Yes, fair is fair: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
But there is something that is much more than fair. In fact, it is totally unfair. Love.
Love is stunning. It endures all things, hopes all things and conquers all things…including the worst of us and the worst in us.
During Christ’s lifetime, tax collectors and sinners were being loved at an alarming rate; alarming, that is, to the Pharisees and scribes, who spent most of their time highlighting people’s sins rather than forgiving them.
The Pharisees and scribes may have been observant Jews, but we all know that looking good is not the same as being good. I know this well.
Lent is all about prayer, sacrifice and hard work. Let’s work hard at being unfair to those who deserve nothing, like the father was to his son, who was lost and found.
That was music to His ears. (0)