Fourth Sunday in Lent   Year C  31 March 2019 

‘Winners and Losers’

Sadly, the pages of our papers and even some segments of our TV News, summarise all the stories from politics to sport under the title of “Winners and Losers”. Whatever became of the statement “It is much better to have played the game, to have been part of the contest, than never to have played at all”?

Chapter 15 of Luke has three main parables; we lose the sheep, we lose the coin, we lose the sons; but redemption is at hand…

The introduction is important.

One group is seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he has to say. The other is complaining. Earlier, Luke reports that this same group “grumbled”. Later they “formed a deep grudge” against the teaching of Jesus. It appears that the teaching they were opposed to is that Jesus was offering hope, new life and welcome as members of the restored people who had listened to the call and teaching of the prophet to fundamentally those considered, by society, to be losers!

You can’t have losers in the Kingdom!

Well, just listen to the third parable in this chapter; “A man had two sons etc.

Both sons were a disappointment to their father. The younger demanding his share as if his father was dead. The older, caught in resentment because he had slaved all these years. The father risks the loss of one who physically withdraws from the farm, loaded with untimely loot. The other, lost emotionally, stoking his alienation and bursting out with pent-up anger. The anxious father caught, like many a parent, between love and despair; but love wins! The father is even-handed in his compassion and concern that extends to both children. This is the image that Jesus wishes to offer the community of His Heavenly Father. He loves us all, even losers. The Kingdom is to be offered to all!

Paul grasped this message after his conversion having, perhaps, identified himself very closely with the elder son. That experience eventually led him to be the apostle to the Gentiles; those considered worse than the tax collectors and sinners!

Lent is racing along. We have had all sorts of malpractice and injustice paraded before our eyes in recent days. Let us not forget that God has reconciled us to himself! We must shout to all like Paul, “…and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.”

 

Mons Frank

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