Reclaiming our Inheritance
(24th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 32:7-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32)
The Pharisees and scribes, in today’s gospel, complained about Jesus. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” They would never do such a thing. For them, it was disgusting!
Jesus offers no apology. Instead he tells three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son. They are all about the joy of finding what was lost, and welcoming back the repentant sinner.
It is only the third parable, however, that depicts a sinner, the younger son squandering his inheritance, swallowing up the father’s property with prostitutes, as the older brother bluntly states.
In the first reading, God complains that his people are worshiping a molten calf. (Remember that they squandered their gold to create it.) He is so enraged that, in speaking to Moses, he calls them “your people,” and “stiff-necked.”
At La Salette, Mary’s language is similar. “If my people refuse to submit.” She is not enraged, quite the contrary; but she wants her people to see the danger they face unless they humbly seek God’s mercy.
They once had a rich inheritance of faith, but they cast it away. Today, sadly, we can see the same reality. We ourselves need to acknowledge, claim ownership of, and take responsibility for our fallen nature, as part of a people that tends to supplant our Creator, with the false god represented by the golden calf.
To the extent that we share that attitude, we need to avail ourselves of the beautiful sacrament of reconciliation, humbly confessing our sinfulness to our Father and reclaiming our inheritance. After that, far from separating us from our people, our La Salette vocation calls us to imitate Jesus, who welcomed sinners.
Each of the three parables begins by identifying a person, the real protagonist, who has lost something precious. The intensity of their loss passes over into their frantic searching or, in the father’s case, deep longing, and is revealed still more forcefully when the lost becomes the found.
This is how Jesus wants us to feel. This is what Mary came to accomplish, by her merciful apparition, and by the commission she has given to us.
Fr. René Butler, M.S., Wayne Vanasse