Fourth Sunday of Lent

Homily Video

Fourth Sunday of Lent Homily Transcript

Well literally every scholars will tell you this, probably the finest short story ever written in all of history, and we just heard it proclaimed in the gospel during the Lent season. The finest short story ever written, it all has all the elements of intrigue and interest, of competition and forgiveness and love. Let’s just take a little look at the gospel and kind of unpack it as it were.

The younger son goes to his father. He says, “Give me my property.” The property wasn’t given until the father would have died. So he’s saying to his father, “Drop dead.” That’s really what he’s saying, “And give me my inheritance.” Father doesn’t argue and gives him his inheritance, and he goes running off. And he goes and he squanders the property. The property was so valuable, particularly in the history of the Jewish people. He squanders it on drinking and prostitutes, and then he finds himself in a tough time. So he hires himself out and he goes to work on a farm feeding pigs. Well, that was the antithesis of what Jewish had nothing to do with pigs. He had thou he’s working, and he’s working with pigs and swine.

He finds himself hungry. He rehearses, “You know what, I’m going to go back. I know I can’t be a son any longer, but maybe my father will hire me as a worker.” He does all this rehearsing, and he turns around. That’s what the word repent means to turn around. And he goes back towards the father. And then you have this wonderful image of the father who is out there looking day and night, hoping that his son might return, and the father does what no father would do in that time or culture. He goes running to his son, the son was to come to him, but he runs to his son. And the son starts talking, and the father doesn’t even listen. He’s just thrilled that his son has come back. Put on the robe, the robe which means you’re a part of the family, you’re a part of this royalty as it were. Put on the ring on his finger, that’s the family ring, the Signet ring. He is a part of this family. Put sandals on his feet. He’s not a slave. He’s my son and let’s celebrate by slaughtering the family calf.

It’s a powerful story, and those in the time of Jesus who would’ve heard this parable would have been awestruck by the words that he was speaking. It’s a celebration of new life. One who had rejected and died has come back to a new life and embraced by the father.

The gospel today is such a wonderful gospel of consolation for all of us. No matter what we have done ours is a God of love and a God of forgiveness. Ours is a God who’s love is the only kind of love that God can have, which is called hesed, a steadfast love for his people. Let us too hear the gospel. Let us reflect and pray on this gospel, and let us be so grateful for that ours is truly a God of love who forgives and welcomes us home over and over and over again.


First Reading:

Joshua 5:10-12

Second Reading:

2 Corinthians 5:17-21


Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Give now to support Sunday Mass


Discover More

Request Sunday Mass Guide

An icon of a person

The Sunday Mass Guide sent to your home address

An icon of a page that is being updated

Spiritual nourishment and updates from the Sunday Mass community

An icon of a cross

Monthly reflections from Fr. Scott Donahue, our Principal Celebrant

Fill out your information