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Our Lady of Victory / St. Malachy
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Our Lady of Victory
490 Charles Street
Gatineau, Québec
J8L 2K5

Mass:     Sunday   9:00 AM
            Thursday 10:00 AM

St. Malachy
3889 Route 315
Mayo, Québec
J8L 3Z8

Mass: Saturday 7:00 PM





Fr. Albanus’ Reflections on the Sunday Liturgy

God’s Love, Patience and Mercy

Today’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the mercy of our loving and patient God. The Good News of Jesus is that God is not a cruel, judging and punishing God. He is a God who wants to save all through His Son Jesus. In the first reading Moses is imploring a forgiving God to have mercy on the sinful people who have abandoned Him and turned to idolatry. He tries to calm the anger of God. To do this Moses knows `that he cannot found his arguments on human good will and that salvation can only be obtained by trusting in God’s mercy and bounty”. Hence, he reminds God of all His unconditional promises to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The only reason and foundation for the hope of human salvation is the infinite love of God; a love that will never be overcome by any infidelity of people, no matter how great. St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that God does not condemn anybody and he has an irrefutable proof of that: God “judged me faithful and appointed me to His service even though I was formally a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence.” If we were to put our trust in our forces and virtuous deeds, then we would have very good reasons to despair. It is safer to put our trust in the gratuitous love of God. Paul says that God used him to show the world how great His magnanimity is and how inexhaustible is His patience.

In today’s Gospel, we are presented with two contrary religious attitudes towards sinners in a bid to teach us about the mercy of our forgiving heavenly Father. First, we have the Scribes and Pharisees who complain that Jesus welcomed sinners and eats with them. For them the “religious” (“the just”) should separate themselves not only from sin but from sinners. The name Pharisees means the “separated ones.” They believe in segregation. On the other hand, we have Jesus who holds a positive view: He believes in association. He welcomes sinners and eats with them. So we have a collision of hostility (Scribes and Pharisees) and hospitality (Jesus). Jesus sees His mission as that of seeking out the company of sinners. That is Jesus’ pastoral strategy. The tax-collectors and sinners, therefore, come to hear what Jesus has to say, while the Pharisees complain. Jesus in today’s passage proposes to us the parables of God’s mercy. He tells these parables to justify His pastoral strategy. He tries to explain things not to sinners but to the “just” who were scandalized.

In the parables the behavior of the protagonist is always strange! In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd is presented as not using his head but his heart. Hence, he organizes a feast for an event of a very little importance. The same is true of the parable of the lost coin as well as that of the lost son (or sons). These parables are meant to point to the attitudes mentioned above. The behavior of Jesus who welcomes sinners and dines with them is revealing a God that the Pharisees do not like and cannot accept. It is scandalous! Is this an exhortation to commit sin? No. It is not a call to sin freely, but to admit that we are all sinners in the sight of the Lord. Sinners certainly should convert but is especially the “upright”, the “just” who must convert. Besides correcting their ways of life, they must correct their idea of God. The Pharisees have a false image of God: that is why they criticize the behavior of Jesus. They invent the “religion founded on merit” and cannot accept a God who is happy to take His meals with sinners and prefer to risk being left out of the banquet hall rather than admit that they have not “deserved” to be called in.

The last parable of today’s Gospel that of the “prodigal son”, is full of insight. It is actually a story of “prodigal father” who has two sons and who loses both. The younger son is lost in a far-away country, and the elder son is lost in the wilderness of his own hostility. One leaves home in the fond hope of experiencing happiness elsewhere only to discover it is found at the heart of his family. The other stays at home but is such a stranger to the love and acceptance which surround him that he might as well be an alien in a foreign land. The younger one leaves home and soon discovers that his promised land is barren. He experiences failure, but his failure is not unimportant. His failure leads him to come to himself. The elder son does not leave home, but staying at home has not led him to hospitality. He lacks the generous instinct of his father. He therefore represents the Pharisees. He sees himself as a slave. He is angry and his anger when his brother returns immobilizes him. Now, it is he who is far from home. He is the “separated one” who cannot move to accept his brother and rejoice with him. The father’s attitude (he loves both his sons) reflects the generosity of Jesus’ way of dealing with sinners. Both sons represent people in Jesus’ audience. Jesus’ appeal, like the father’s appeal, is aimed at religious intolerance.

Like the elder son in the Gospel, the Pharisees and Scribes are good and upright. They may be without sin. But if their sinlessness adds up to lovelessness, there is no virtue in it. If their religious fidelity permits them to reject their brother and sister, it does not serve any reasonable purpose. They end up being enslaved by their own religious intolerance. The story of the intolerance of the elder son is still being told today! God is love, patient and merciful!

Happy Sunday!


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490 Charles Street • Gatineau • Québec • J8L 2K5
Telephone: (819) 986-3763
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