The psalm sets the tone this day: “Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!” Happy are those who have “become the righteousness of God” in the merits of Christ Jesus. Happy are those for whom the forgiveness of God has “rolled away . . . the disgrace” of former times. Happy is the father at the return of his prodigal son. Happy are we that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Rejoice!
Readings and Psalm
- Joshua 5:9-12
Israel eats bread and grain, the produce of the land
- Psalm 32
Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord. (Ps. 32:11)
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
The mystery and ministry of reconciliation
- Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
The parable of the prodigal father and the repentant son
Less Grumbling, More Humbling
Grumbling! The crowd around Jesus—the “in” crowd, that is—was grumbling. Grumbling because Jesus welcomed those who traditionally had been set apart: tax collectors and sinners. Who are those who cause us to grumble? Whose seemingly undeserved handout or unearned status change filled our hearts with resentment this week? Jesus speaks to us today because we too often see life as a game with winners and losers, points and playbooks, offense and defense. Can we open our hearts and minds to hear today’s humbling good news? God’s love is freely shared with all: we cannot earn it, we cannot deserve it. When we attend worship, we do so out of thanksgiving and praise for God’s glory, hunger and thirst for God’s word and sacrament. We do not attend worship to achieve some status within God’s kingdom. When we help a neighbor, share with a stranger, assist the afflicted, or acknowledge the overlooked we do so because Christ first did the same for us. We respond to God’s grace and mercy with our own feeble attempts to emulate God’s perfect love. It is challenging, exhausting, never-ending, perspective-altering, radically humbling work. It’s work that is impossible to do without the inspiration of Christ, the nourishment of wine and bread, and the strength of the saints who have gone before us and with whom we walk Christ’s path today. Let us find those in our world who teach us about Christ’s unending reconciliation, so that we can all celebrate and rejoice as the family of God.