This weekend our readings give three very powerful readings. In the first reading from the Book of Joshua we see the Israelites celebrating Passover for the first time in the Promised Land — they ate from the produce of the land and the manna from heaven stopped falling. St. Paul, in the second reading, speaks of what God the Father is doing in sending the Son into the world — “God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.” Sometimes that sense of reconciliation is overlooked — the Good News of our salvation becomes overshadowed by a strong tendency to focus on ‘hellfire and brimstone’ theology that often forgets the fact that God loves us, forgives us when we genuinely ask for forgiveness and offers mercy, justice and reconciliation through his Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
That image of the Father watching out for us is seen in the Gospel passage, the parable of the prodigal son. If we look at the father’s role is this there is an interesting line that is often not mentioned. In the account of the prodigal’s return, we read: ‘while he was still a long way off his father saw him and was moved with pity’. It is a great image of our heavenly Father looking at humanity and, being ‘moved with pity’, showing mercy, loving his creation, and sending his only Son that we may be saved. We must accept that offering of salvation and become ‘ambassadors for Christ’ in our world as Saint Paul did.