Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The characteristics of God in the Book of Micah apply perfectly to the father of the two sons in today’s Gospel. On the one hand, God the Father delights in clemency and has compassion on sinners; on the other, the father in the Gospel parable shows mercy and compassion toward his prodigal younger son and his indignant older son.
God does not want the death of the sinner and works untiringly to restore his children to life when they have strayed. When we return to God with humility and a contrite heart, he removes our guilt and pardons our sin. The image in Micah is very vivid: God will tread our guilt underfoot and cast our sins into the depths of the sea. The reign of sin and death is over, for Jesus has conquered them both. In fact, in the Book of Revelation we are told that the sea, the place where our sins are cast, “was no more” (Rev 21:1). There is no place for sin and death in heaven, the dwelling of God’s love.
The passage from Micah ends by recalling God’s faithfulness to covenants made with Abraham and Jacob. Even though we fail and are unfaithful, God remains faithful to his covenant and seeks to bring man into the New Covenant of Christ’s blood.
Whether we have sinned like the prodigal son by our greed and sensuality or sinned like the older son by our pride and anger, God will welcome us back into his embrace and household. The return of the sinner is not a cause for judgment but for rejoicing. Even though it is difficult, we need to imitate our heavenly Father in his mercy and welcome our brothers and sisters back into God’s household with joy. Jesus has taught us that we will be judged as we have judged others. And in the Lord’s prayer, we pray that God forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. If we show mercy to others, God will show mercy to us.