Our Lady of Sorrows
Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
When Sunday readings are before us we have an abundance of spiritual nourishment. In Exodus we grapple with God’s judgment and mercy. The people have committed the grave sin of idolatry by worshipping the golden calf. God’s judgment is swift as he announces to Moses that his blazing anger will consume them. Moses implores God to remember his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and God relents. But the people will now be wandering in the desert for forty years until a new generation is born. Our advocate is not Moses, but Jesus. How much more hope we should have for ourselves, our family, and our Church. At every Mass Jesus is offering himself to his Father and making intercession for us. We have every reason to hope.
In his letter to Timothy Paul is giving thanks for his conversion from a persecutor of the Church to one who proclaims the gospel. With great fervor he proclaims: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and he adds: "Of these I am the foremost." We all need the mercy of Christ.
In the gospel Luke tells the story of the shepherd who searches and finds the lost sheep. A joyful celebration occurs on his return home. Likewise the housewife who finds her lost coin throws a party for her friends and neighbors. What was lost and found is the sinner who repents. These stories encourage us to respond to God’s invitation to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do we have ears to hear the "rejoicing among the angels of God".
Finally we have the beloved story of the Father and his two sons. While I understand why Jesus made the Father the central figure, I think the story would have been truer to life if a Mother was the protagonist. The Father shows the heart and emotions of a mother. I think this was the feeling of the great painter Rembrandt. If you carefully look at his painting of the scene where the returning prodigal knells and embraces his Father who in turn places his hands on the sobbing shoulders of his son, one of those hands is feminine and the other masculine. It is a masterful image of a God who embraces his wayward children. We should never the scandalized at God’s mercy as was the elder brother.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.