His father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son.

Sometimes Lent can feel like a season of “doing.” Practices to take up. Habits to break down. Attitudes to change. Of course, this is very good, but it’s not the whole story. At its heart, Lent is a journey home, back to God. Like the prodigal returning home in today’s Gospel, we move one step closer to the Lord with every prayer, every sacrifice, every act of love. And like the father in the parable, God is also moving; in fact, he takes the first step! What’s more, he runs toward us and covers more ground than we ever could.

So today, let’s turn our attention from what we do to what God does. Each of today’s readings paints a part of that picture. The prophet Micah reminds us that our Father delights in showing mercy: “Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin?” (7:18). The psalmist proclaims that God is eager to forgive our sins and save us from our guilt: “He pardons all [our] iniquities. . . . He redeems [our] life from destruction” (Psalm 103:3, 4). And in the Gospel, Jesus tells us that our Father sees us, even when we are a “long way off,” even when we’re wondering how to make our way back, and he runs toward us (Luke 15:20).

Here is the heart of Jesus’ message: overflowing with compassion and love, our heavenly Father rushes to embrace us, forgive us, and invite us to celebrate with him (Luke 15:20-24). He takes the initiative; his goodness gives us the courage to come home. Even when our hearts are hard, he pleads with us to come and enter his joy (15:28-32).

This is your God. He pours out his grace today so that you can “come to your senses” (see Luke 15:17). He comes to meet you today in your prayer. He runs to you in Confession, where you can let go of your burdens of sin. And he pleads with you to enter the celebration of his Body and Blood. All this, God does. All this, so that you might come home.

“Thank you, Father, for always helping me to come home to you.”

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32


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