This week’s responsorial psalm, second reading, and Gospel all share one common theme: unconditional love. For as long as I can remember, I was taught that God loves all humans and will forgive those who are truly sorry for their past sins. There is no person on this earth who can say that he or she is perfect and has not sinned before. We have all made mistakes and have asked God or others for forgiveness at some point in our lives, and typically if someone is earnestly sorry, they are forgiven and able to learn and grow from these mistakes. The image of God that has been painted for me is not one of wrath, fury and punishments, but love, acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding. God loves us so dearly and believes in our ability to learn from and change by facing our mistakes. He believed in this idea so firmly that a special sacrament was created to allow one to wash themselves clean of their sins and start new with knowledge that God is aware of our sins, has forgiven us, and continues to love us regardless of our sins. The responsorial psalm states, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” This idea of being washed from guilt and cleansed of sins reminds me both Baptism and Reconciliation. In Baptism we are physically and spiritually washed and in Reconciliation we are spiritually renewed and freed from our sins.
The second reading is rejoicing and praising God for His mercy. The reading refers to the writer’s past briefly, but then details the Lord’s mercy and patience with all sinners. The Lord pours out his faith and love for everyone and it is our decision whether we choose to accept it graciously or turn away from it in our dark moments. Regardless of our pasts, anyone can repent and change for the better. Those who repent will be met with open arms by a loving and merciful God who sees our fullest potential and believes in our ability to unlock this potential.
The Gospel tells the story of the prodigal son and Jesus continues to reiterate the beauty of finding something once lost. The Gospel reads, “Now we must celebrate and rejoice,because your brother was dead and has come to life again;he was lost and has been found.” The father in this story demonstrated the unconditional love that God has for each and every human He has created. The father did not turn away from his once lost son, but instead ordered a grand celebration for his coming home. The father was able to put the past behind him and cannot help but rejoice and celebrate the fact that his son has found his way home. The twists and turns that life throws at us can cause us to get lost and stray from God at times. No matter how lost or alone we may feel, we can always return to God and He will be waiting with open arms ready to love and accept us as though nothing changed. Unconditional love is something so amazingly beautiful and is something that is often hard to find, but we can always find it when we turn to our Lord.