March 27.  Sunday Lent 4C.  The son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country and there he squandered his property in loose living. .  Deacon Paul told the congregation, “After you have read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s gospel let us adapt the story and put it into a modern day context and see what we can learn from that.

“Jose Manuel had come from Madeira with practically nothing but some sound words of advice from his mother. “Find yourself a good girl who will be a good mother to your children and when you’re in trouble pray to the Virgin.”   He had been lucky that an uncle was able to help him get a job and being hardworking he was soon earning good money and could impress the girls. He did marry a good girl who bore him three daughters and, after much prayer to the Virgin, finally a son.  His bottle-store business was going well and he had become a rich and influential man in the community.  He doted on the boy Paolo and gave him everything he wanted, but seldom took notice of his Maria and their daughters who came to resent their spoilt little brother.   At high school Paolo started getting into trouble.  There were plenty of friends to help him spend his money.  They introduced him to alcohol and drugs and of course girls.  At first his father refused to listen and would brush Maria aside when she and the girls tried to talk to him. After Paolo was arrested for drunken driving and Jose had to bail him out for the second time, he was very angry and gave the boy an ultimatum. “Get your life together or leave home,” he shouted, never thinking that would happen, but it did.  Arrogantly Paolo chose to leave home, demanded his inheritance and left town.    Jose Manuel was shattered. At first he was angry and stormed around the store and house yelling at everyone. Then he became withdrawn and would sit by the window looking down the road. The daughters took over running the business.  At times Jose ranted and raved, at times he even cried but always he blamed everyone else.  Days, weeks and months passed.  Paolo had secretly been in touch with his mother on whatsapp and even sometimes asked her for money.   She tried to talk to his father but he refused to listen.  She started a novena to the Virgin Mary and left pictures of Paolo around the house.

One night Jose had a dream, seeing young Paolo playing his first soccer match and scoring his first goal. When the team lost the match, the boy came running to his dad in tears. Jose hugged him saying, “Don’t worry son I’ll always be there for you.”  The next morning he asked Maria, “Do you know where Paolo is?  Do you think he needs me?”  “But of course, Papa” Paolo’s mother said, “He and you have always needed each other but sometimes you are both too proud.  Why don’t you call him and ask him to come home for Easter.”   He picked up the phone. “Hi dad,” came the reply, “I was just about to call you.  I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been too well.  I really would like to come home for Easter. Is that OK with you?”

Deacon concluded the story, “Is it possible that behind every forgiving father is a manipulative, concerned, never-letting-go, determined-to-make-peace mother?  Could we maybe even say that mercy is one of the feminine qualities of God?  Where do you most experience mercy in your families? ”

Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Read the parable in Luke 15:1-3,11-32.  Pope Francis.  The woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new life that is conceived and develops in her and from her is born into the world.  Every child has a right to receive love from a  mother and a father, both are necessary for a child’s integral and harmonious development. Respecting a child’s dignity means affirming his or her need and natural right to have a mother and a father. If for some inevitable reason one parent should be lacking it is important to compensate for this loss for the sake of the child’s healthy growth to maturity. AL172-3. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 4.  Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves as a nation to enhance sound family and community values as the core socializing units that inspire and create the moral and ethical values in society. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at