Over the past weekend I gave a retreat to 56 women at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, WI. I preached at Mass today and here is part of what I said.
Periodically I'll hear one parent say to the other: "That son of yours..." or "That daughter of yours...", as though that particular child wasn't his or hers. This is usually said when the child does something wrong and one of the parents seemingly doesn't want to take responsibility for what the child has become and done. We hear this same dynamic in the first reading today (Exodus 32: 7-11, 13-14) and in the Gospel (Luke 15: 1-32).
In Exodus, Israel has just forsaken God and made a molten calf to worship. God says to Moses, "Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt...." It's as though God is disowning them, but not really. The people have disowned God, rejecting Him for an idol they can see and touch. Moses in turn asks God, "Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt...?" Moses is right. God is the one who chose this people and brought them out of Egypt. Moses, though the instrument God has called to lead His people, is one among many. Moses reminds God of the relationship He has with this chosen people who have rejected Him.
In the Gospel, the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son rejects the relationship he has with his profligate younger brother, telling their father that he is "your son." The father's response is to remind the elder brother of the relationship he has, telling him that the younger son is "your brother."
It's all about relationship and we are challenged by these readings to examine how we view others, especially people who have hurt us or are our enemies or are living in ways that are opposed to us and our values.
We are all children of God our Father who created us all for eternal life with Him in heaven. We must see the deepest identity of others and recognize them as brothers and sisters.
Moreover, Jesus Christ shed His Precious Blood to save them as well as us. Quoting from the Council of Quiercy which met in the year 853, the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" states in #605: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer." He suffered and died for all. His Precious Blood, shed for all, makes everyone precious to Him and to us.
In the second reading (1 Timothy 1: 12-17), St. Paul writes: "This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." He did this by suffering and dying for them. Now we, His Body, must see others as precious to Jesus and do all we can for their salvation.