Like Last Sunday’s Gospel, this is a story with a strong theological overlay. However, Jesus surely had an experience of his Father in heaven at some point in his public life in which he perceived that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and like the prophets die for the good news he had come to preach. The disciples did not understand this experience then. Nor is it clear that we understand it now. Jesus saw that, like all humans, he had to die. He also perceived that is death, like all deaths, would be horrible, though more horrible than most.
Nonetheless because he was confident of His Father’s love for him, we went to Jerusalem bravely because he knew that ultimately God would vindicate the good news with his powerful love. So we must understand that God too will vindicate us eventually and that Jesus will accompany us down into the valley of death. Lent, in a way, is more about our own deaths and resurrections than it is about Jesus’.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once there was a scientist who believed in nothing at all. He enjoyed especially putting down those who had near death experiences (NDE) in which they were revived after they clinically died. It was all brain chemistry, he insisted, an evolutionary adjustment for a species that was conscious of its own mortality. There was no tunnel, no figure in white at the end of it, no choice about whether to stay or come back. It was all an illusion caused by the brain chemicals that were released at the moment of death. Then he had a heart attack and was clinically dead when they got him to the hospital. However, the doctors revived him and he reported that he had indeed gone through an NDE.
It was an illusion, he insisted, caused by brain chemicals. I still do not believe in anything at all except science. When we are dead, we are dead and thats that. However, he seemed less afraid of death than most of his atheist colleagues. One of them asked him if he was not afraid that he might be wrong. Promise you wont quote me? Yes. Well, I figure that if the NDE was all an illusion then I have nothing to lose by saying it was an illusion.
On the other hand, if the person in white that the brain chemicals made me imagine is real, well theres so much love there, I have nothing to lose either because I will be forgiven. So its a good gamble. Oh, said his colleague.
Gospel Reading: Luke 15:1-3,11-321 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." 3 So he told them this parable:
11 And he said, "There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' 31 And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of
the congregation I will praise you:
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The survey of the archdiocese, which Father Greeley describes as "a very complicated place" demographically, asks some difficult questions, and finds some interesting truths.
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