Thursday, March 11, 2010

To Change or not to Change

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C

If there is anything which is unchanging in life, it is change itself. From the moment we are born to the time that we die, we are constantly changing. Physical and biological change is part and parcel of life – something we have no control of. But we do have control over one very important aspect – in fact the most crucial aspect of our lives – our direction in life. Strangely, it is this direction that is hardest to change and hardest to accept.

In the first reading, after journeying 40 years in the desert and after their escape from Egypt, the Israelites finally arrived at their new homeland. From that time on, their way of life would undergo a dramatic change as shown by the change of diet – they will no longer have the manna which they ate in the desert.

In the gospel, we have the famous story of the Prodigal Son. In the fact it is a story of three persons – first we have a most generous and loving father. The second character is our famous younger son who started off on the wrong track but who later repented and decided to change his direction in life. And thirdly, we have our elder brother, who is in the background and only emerges at the very end.

Many of you may have been thinking that the ending seems so unfair. The unfilial and good-for-nothing son is rewarded at the end while the faithful and filial older son seems to be neglected. On the surface it really seems so unfair. Of course, when Jesus told this parable, he was referring to his audience. The younger son represented the sinners among his followers who had repented of their past lives while the older son represented the pious and overly religious Pharisees and scribes who continued to hold on to their self-righteous beliefs. It is this second group of persons who refused to change because they felt that they were already good – they had no need to change.

Change can be frightening. Change can be disturbing, But unless we change, we will remain like the elder brother – angry, frustrated, complaining always. Unless we change, we can never allow ourselves to be part of God’s salvation. In Jesus Christ, we are told by St. Paul that we are already a new creation. If we are indeed a ‘new creation’ then we must begin to live this ‘newness’ of life.

During this mass, where we are giving thanks for all the blessings that this community has received from God, let us pray for the grace to accept change. And not only accept change when it comes to us but also be prepared to change when the Lord calls us to move forward in faith, love and hope.

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