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Lenten Reflection for the fourth week of Lent

The parable proclaimed in many churches at the outset of this Fourth week of Lent is a story well-known and well-loved, the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is the story of the son who leaves home and spends his entire inheritance on dissolute living. Now broke and homeless, he sets back for home, ready to ask his father’s forgiveness (and receive any punishment that might come his way). At first sight of the young man, his father runs to greet him, wraps his arms around his son in a tender embrace and calls for a grand celebration, for his son “was dead and has come back to life again; he was lost and has been found!”

Many would say this is not the story of a prodigal son, but of a prodigal father! The very meaning of ‘prodigal’ is “wastefully extravagant,” “generous on a lavish scale”. Indeed, the parable’s father is lavish and extravagant in his love for this wayward child.

And so it is with our God. How many of us have allowed ourselves to be loved in the way God is showing us? Who among us moves through life with a felt knowledge of God’s unconditional love?

God stands on the road, waiting expectantly for us to fall into God’s outstretched arms. Are we ready to fall?


Jim Smith, Benedictine director, mission integration