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Second Week of Lent

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 & Lk. 156:1-3, 11-32

“The Lord is compassion and love.” Those words of the responsorial psalm summarise both today's readings. The first is an appeal to God to be merciful. “Once more have pity on us, tread down our faults to the bottom of the sea throw all our sins.” In the second, the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus gives us a perfect description of His Father, showing how patient, loving and merciful He is to both his sons. Each offended Him but He could not stop loving them.

This reading could be seen as the story of a man going through an identity crisis. Initially he just wanted to spread his wings and find out what life was like in the outside world. He thought only of himself, of what he was going to achieve. It is characteristic of every spoilt child to be totally self-centred. All his needs must be met. The tragedy is that some people never progress very far beyond that. This was the problem with the Prodigal Son who didn't care how hard his father had worked to earn that money, or what impact it would have on the family business to take out one third of the working capital.

Then the arrogant young man who had thought so highly of himself was forced to reconsider that opinion. In a relatively short period, he somehow managed to lose all his money, along with all of his pride, becoming dispirited and utterly discouraged. Once he had thought of himself as daring and adventurous, the envy of all his friends; now he could see himself as nothing but a fool, and a failure. Convinced of his own unworthiness, he decided to give up his freedom, go home and ask his father to be treated as one of his servants.

It was not until the Prodigal Son returned home that he finally found out who he really was. There his father waited with open arms to welcome him back as his son, a member of his family. All he hoped for was a job; instead he discovered his true identity. He was still his father's son with all the privileges and responsibilities which that relationship implied.

Do we sometimes feel unsure of our own identity, of being lost in the crowd? There are some people who feel a great sense of importance because they have achieved some success in the world. Others have a very poor self-image, with no sense of their own value at all. The fact is that we are all of equal value in God’s eyes.

Lord Jesus, help us to know and believe that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of Your Father, and that this is our true identity.

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