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Lent 2nd Week, Saturday, Mar 14th

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 / Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 
Jesus teaches about forgiveness: “A man had two sons ...”

This parable contains two remarkable things. The first is the son’s demand for his inheritance. To demand one’s inheritance before the death of one’s parents was cruel. It was to rob them of their “social security.” The second is the father’s welcome of his son. He embraces him, withholding no affection. He puts shoes on his son’s feet. Freemen wore shoes; slaves went barefooted. Shoes removed from the son the sign that he was somebody’s slave and restored to him the sign that he was somebody’s son. Finally, the father puts a ring on his son’s finger. It was undoubtedly the family’s signet ring. To possess it was to possess the power to act in the family’s name. In brief, the father forgives his son totally.
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How forgiving are we of those who have sinned against us? “Mercy imitates God and disappoints Satan.” John Chyrsostom
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Based on anecdotal evidence, we can say that there is a black sheep in every family. Usually that is referred to one of the children. That particular child is always out of step with the rest and seems to be marching to a different tune. That 'black sheep' is the bane and the burden of parents.

Some parents will resort to renouncement of the relationship with that child, others will resort to punishment which may actually be just a way of venting out their frustrations on the child.

In today's gospel parable, we hear of yet another way of dealing with the 'black sheep'. The father gave in to his younger son's request, but yet further on in the parable, we hear of the father waiting and looking out for him to return. What made the son came to his senses was that he recalled how kindly his father treated his servants. That was enough for him to get moving.

No matter how far a person has gone over to the dark and destructive side, the memories of love and kindness and goodness can never be erased from him. It is these memories that will make a person come to his senses and bring him back to the light. So when we come across the odd one, the black sheep, the sinner, let us be the reflection of God's love to that person.

The 1st reading describes God taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger for ever but delighting in showing mercy. Let us be that image of God for others to help them come to their senses and return to God.
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LITURGY

Introduction

When we forgive those who have hurt us, often some scars remain and take a long time to heal. Even if we have not personally suffered from a crime, we cry for blood and vengeance in the name of society, and we don’t treat a released prisoner or sinner who has made up for his failure as if he had done no wrong. But God does. He remains faithful to the love once given. He comes forward both to welcome the returning sinner and to invite the brother or sister who has a hard time to welcome his lost brother or sister to share in the joy of forgiveness and his return.


Penitential:
-You, Lord, do not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, LHM
-You, Lord, will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins as you showed your faithfulness to Jacob, CHM
-You, Lord, are like the father who welcomed his prodigal son saying, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again, LHM

Opening Prayer
We bless you, God, because you like to forgive and you reveal yourself in forgiving. You run to meet the sinner. You throw his sins to the bottom of the sea. You crown him with love and tenderness. We bless you, Lord, for this table, at which your only Son gave his body and blood to bring together your scattered children at a feast in which all things are renewed. Unwearying God, Father of mercy, we thank you and proclaim your faithfulness.

Homily Prayer:
God of mercy, your word snatches the mask from our false pretenses. Your light pierces every corner of our darkness. We recognize and acknowledge that we are sinners.

Your word speaks to us again and again of your tenderness, and your light is our rebirth. Be blest, you for whom our sin is not our last word to you. May your forgiveness be your last word for everlasting.

Commentary
Jesus could not have given us a more powerful image of the mercy of God than the scene of the father running out to embrace in forgiveness his once wayward son. Such is God's tender mercy that He would be quick to cancel debts and forgive past mistakes. We experience this same outpouring of God's mercy, this same warm embrace whenever we make an honest confession of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. May we never think that our sins lie outside God's power or desire to forgive.

General Intercession
–   For priests, that in their pastoral of the sacrament of reconciliation they may learn from the Father to be joyful, patient and uplifting, we pray:
–   For those who have not yet learned to forgive, that they may discover the joy and the peace that the feast of forgiveness brings, we pray:
–   For those who feel guilty, that they may find the courage to seek forgiveness, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, through your Son Jesus Christ in this Eucharist you come forward to welcome us to the joy of forgiveness and peace. May your Son give us the strength
to be merciful as you are, that we may build up and welcome rather than condemn and reject, for we too are in need of your pardon through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Father in heaven, your love creates us anew when we have failed. May our hearts reach out to sinners and to all those in need without any condescension. Keep us carrying out our task of reconciling and uniting all races and tongues and social classes and to build bridges of peace that we may go together toward the joys of your home of welcome. We ask this through him in whose sacrifice of reconciliation we share, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Faithful Father, you are our God of grace, mercy and forgiveness. When mercy and pardon sound paternalistic to modern ears, make us realize, Lord, that you challenge us to face ourselves and to become new people, responsible for the destiny of ourselves and for the happiness of others. Make us responsive to your love through Christ Jesus our Lord.