Today is also known as Refreshment Sunday, and the vestments word today are rose in colour. It is a moment to pause, to be refreshed, before we set out on the journey to Jerusalem with our Lord. This year, make that journey in the company of many suffering people and nations, especially in Europe.
The Gospel is the story of the Prodigal Son, and here is part of it: ‘“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”’
Pope St John Paul II, in his work ‘Dives in Misericordia’, said this: ‘The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion. Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man. Understood in this way, mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission. His disciples and followers understood and practised mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be “conquered by evil,” but overcomes “evil with good.” The genuine face of mercy has to be ever revealed anew.
In our own lives, there will be countless opportunities for us to show mercy, as mercy has been shown to us. May we know the grace of true conversion of heart, and may the mercy of God be with you this day.