The fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally is called Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday). This week each of the three readings characterizes one of the many facets of Easter joy. In many ways, we have been dead, but through God’s grace we have come to life again; we have been lost, but have now been found. We have every reason to rejoice.
This Sunday we have the parable of the Prodigal Son. The parable of the prodigal son is called "the greatest short story in the world" (Charles Dickens), "the gospel of the gospels", “the gospel of the outcasts," and the "parable of the prodigal father." The prodigal father takes home the returning son and gives him new clothes, ring, sandals so on. It is an expression of acceptance, love, and forgiveness.
When the elder brother came from the field, he refused to come in because of the broken relationship. What did the father do? The father went out to the elder son and begged him to be reconciled with his younger brother and to share in his joy. He assured the elder son of his continuing love and of the son’s secure inheritance and place in the family by saying, “All I have is yours.”
Look at that Father and Son encounter. So much warmness is there. One side a father, who is waiting on an everyday basis to see his son, is coming back. On the other hand a son who ran away realizes his mistake and coming back in confidence of his father’s love and forgiveness. Rembrandt's return of the prodigal is masterpiece work. If we take a closer look at his work, we can see that the father emprise his son. His two alms are two different sizes. It represents one mother’s arm (gentleness) and the other represents the father’s arm (strong). This father was waiting for his son, holding so much love in his heart.
The context of this parable, Pharisees, and scribes, who kept the commandments and served, but Jesus was showing mercy and sharing with everyone. They couldn’t accept it, they criticized Jesus for his mercy towards sinners. Look at the elder son, he served his father and obeyed, now he is not happy with his father, because he took his prodigal son in.
In the gospel, the joy is that of a young son’s “coming home”. It is a precious moment. Lent is all about coming to that precious moment: an encounter with God. It is precious, emotional. We have all the reasons to rejoice in the middle of the Lenten season. I suppose we all are making a wonderful journey in this lent. And let us help someone else make that journey of Lent. We have a wonderful, loving and caring God the Father. A father who runs to the son who went away, at the same time we have the father going to the older son and want to invite him to the feast. In a way both of them are still in learning the true love of the father. In this lent let us pause and look at the face of Jesus and learn the love of the father expressed for each one of us.