Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32)
Experiencing More Deeply Our Heavenly Father’s Mercy, Love, and Grace
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love. (Psalm 51:3)
One of the very first things we do at every Mass is celebrate the Penitential Rite. We are invited to reflect silently on our sins and then pray, “Lord, have mercy.” The rite concludes as the priest expresses our common trust in God’s forgiving love.
It’s easy to slide over this ritual. If we happen to arrive a bit late, we feel we haven’t missed much. We tend to see the reading of God’s word and the Eucharistic prayer as the essential parts of the Mass.
Today’s Gospel reading, however, redirects our focus.
Before he could enter into the joy of his father’s celebration, the runaway son had to acknowledge his wrongdoing and journey home with words of repentance. It’s also likely that the boy’s older brother could not join the party because he didn’t grasp how dependent he was on his father’s mercy and provision.
God doesn’t proportion his mercy based on how deserving or sinful we are. No, his mercy is as great as his unconditional love. He offers it to everyone who asks. He stations himself on the road, eager to welcome the first glimpse of every beloved child who seeks to return to him.
From the sad example of the older brother, we can also learn the value of another reconciling moment during Mass: the kiss of peace. This is the point when we are invited to share the peace of Christ with acquaintances and strangers alike. This brief moment offers us the chance to seek mercy, to put aside anything that divides us so that we can receive Communion, one in heart and mind. This call for peace, unity, and reconciliation is crucial if we want to know genuine communion—both with the Lord and with each other.
So at Mass, make sure you take advantage of these opportunities. Your Father wants to pour so much grace and mercy on you!
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading today speaks of the idol erected by the Israelites after they left Egypt. It also describes God’s wrath against those who would put created things above him. We, as Catholics, can put the things of this world ahead of our worship and obedience to God. We too often have a tendency to return to familiar patterns of behavior or even sin when confronted with difficulties. What areas of your life have the potential to be (or are) “idols”?
- The responsorial psalm speaks of David’s cry for the forgiveness and the mercy of God. It is also a cry for a “clean heart” and a “steadfast spirit.” How might you take better advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to receive a “clean heart” and a “steadfast spirit”?
- In the letter to Timothy, Paul tells how he himself, once “the foremost” of sinners, received God’s mercy and came to serve the Lord. He went on to say that he was “mercifully treated” so that in him, “Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for all those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life” (1Timothy 1:16). How might your service to God and the Church be seen as an example to others of God’s love and mercy? How willing are you to tell others of God’s love and mercy?
- In the Gospel, we read of the complaints being made against Jesus; that he “welcomes” sinners. How well are you reaching out to others, especially those less fortunate than you? How might you go the “extra mile” to serve your spouse, your family, your parish, your co-workers, and others?
- The Gospel also recounts the parable of the prodigal son. Like the son, how have you valued what God could do for you more than you valued your relationship of love and intimacy with him? How might you use the example of the father in the parable as an inspiration in your own life? What is your level of hope and trust in your heavenly Father’s love for your family, especially for those who may be far from the Lord right now?
- The meditation speaks of the importance of opening ourselves at Mass to God’s mercy, love, and grace when we celebrate the Penitential Rite and the kiss of peace. The meditation ends with these words: “So today at Mass, make sure you take advantage of these opportunities. Your Father wants to pour so much grace and mercy on you!” What additional steps can you take during these times at Mass to open yourself more to God’s healing mercy and love.
- Take some time now to pray and ask God the Father to allow you to experience more deeply his mercy, love, and grace.. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.