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Second chance

Next to the forgiving father, who is the most worthy character in the Parable of the Prodigal Son? The fattened calf. It had no fault, no issues, no words, and yet it was slaughtered and sacrificed so that others can celebrate and have a feast!

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 15, 1-3.11-32), we hear the story of the loving and forgiving father. Often it is difficult to comprehend, but in humility and gratitude, we believe, and tell God our Father today: Thank You for your unconditional and unending love for us, your prodigal daughters and sons. Maraming salamat po, Panginoon!

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In itself, being prodigal (i.e., lavish, extravagant) is not bad, as long as it is not just for oneself. But in the case of the prodigal son in today’s parable, he left his father, and his family responsibilities to pursue his selfish and worldly pleasures. All of us should constantly remember this saying: “Love people, use things, and not love things, use people.”

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Our God is a God of endless forgiveness and many second chances. And so it is that the prodigal son was given a second life, the resentful son was pacified, and even the conniving servants were not dismissed nor penalized. May we learn to be more forgiving, and more understanding of others.

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A “second-chance moment” became very real in our Christ the King Seminary community last March 1. Three of our confreres and a coworker came out positive from their rapid test for COVID-19 and that made us all anxious and afraid. But our sadness turned to joy when they had a second swab (RT-PCR test), and the result was negative! Imagine the joy and relief for them, and for all of us to be freed from a clear and present danger.

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All of us have our “prodigal-son moments” when we come to difficult moments, and realize our mistakes and misdeeds. Let us not belittle such moments when God speaks to us to go back to righteousness, and allow His grace to bring us closer to His heart. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95)

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God speaks loudly and clearly when we experience our weakness and mortality deprived of human security, we realize our sins and folly, and reach out to God for His help and mercy. Such is our human reality. But may it not be said of us that we reach out to God only in our need.

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“Chak shim sam il” is a Korean proverb that literally means “good heart, three days,” to remind us that often, our resolve to change for the better doesn’t last long. Let us be vigilant in prayer so that we will persevere in our journey to God’s heart. May our conversion be real, sincere, and constant.

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Of all the characters in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, two characters stand out and are worth emulating: The father whose love is unconditional, and the fattened calf that lived a purposeful life and died a meaningful death. Yes, our Father will never stop loving us, and yes, let us live lives filled with giving.

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Heard in the news that Japan has appointed a Minister for Loneliness to tackle mental health issues, and combat a rising suicide rate, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have our faith, and we have a God who gives us hope and joy amid our pain, loneliness, failures, and weaknesses. “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9, 10b)

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A moment with the Lord: Thank You, Lord, for always giving us countless second-chance moments. Amen.

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TAGS: Gospel, Jerry M. Orbos, Moments
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