Newry Parish Bulletin Sunday 27th March 2022 | St Joseph's Convent Primary School Newry

Newry Parish Bulletin Sunday 27th March 2022

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Newry Parish Bulletin Sunday 27th March 2022

There is a harmony of themes in the three readings this weekend as they focus on the graciousness of God.  The story of the Prodigal Son could best be approached by exploring the image of God that seeks to portray rather than focusing on the theme of repentance.  The younger son is thoughtless and self-centred in the demands he makes of his father: in effect, he is treating the father as being dead, as an inheritance only takes effect after death.  The father, in turn, in his approach appears equally irresponsible in not being firmer in dealing with the son’s folly.  Even when the son comes to his senses, it is not a moral conversion that he undergoes but a realisation that he would have better fare as a hired servant on his father’s estate than in his current misery.  He shows no signs of moral insight or development.  His intended return is simply an extension of his selfishness.

On the son’s return, the father does not engage in reprimanding or chastising him, as one might normally expect from a responsible parent.  Instead of the expected chilly reception he deserved of the father astounds everyone by the sheer folly of his generosity towards his profligate son.  The father is simply delighted that his son has returned from exile and wants the banquet to begin.  It is as if he were only waiting for the excuse.  The son is home, the father is delighted; this is all that maters.   There is no word of what becomes of him subsequently or if he behaved himself.

The elder son voices the inevitable horror that any right-thinking person may have felt at what has happened. He protests at the father’s injustice and absurd behaviour.  He refuses to join in the celebrations.  But the father is not dealing in the normal conventions of justice and expected standards of reward and punishment.  The father’s love is inexplicable.

Jesus is trying to convey to his listeners that such is the nature of God’s love for humankind.  It is beyond what we can imagine.  God loves in a way that we cannot fathom.  The love of God is an unconditional love.  The Pharisees had difficulty coping with such an image of God and perhaps this is why they are so often the target of criticism in the Gospel.  It is difficult to resist the temptation of being a Pharisee when it comes to imagining the indiscriminate love that God has for people.  No wonder that the Gospel sees the Pharisee as an obstacle to the proclamation of the Good News and the Pharisees are not confined to the pages of the New Testament!



God Bless


Canon Francis Brown

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