Day 318: The Narrow Gate, the Lost Sheep, and the Prodigal Son

Luke 13:1-5 Many people at that time believed sickness, injury, and misfortune were connected to personal sins or the sins of one’s family. Although illness and death are consequences of Original Sin and thus affect all humanity, Christ dispelled the notion that the individuals who were so tragically killed had died because of their own sins. However, their untimely demise is a call to repentance since we do not know when our own lives will come to an end. (CCC 1502)

Ch 13:6-9 The Parable of the Fig Tree is about repentance and mercy. God, in his mercy, gives us ample opportunity to repent and bear fruit. However, if we persist in the refusal of his love, we will indeed perish by our own choice. (CCC 402, 1008, 1018)

Ch 13:10-17 The question of what activities were permissible on the Sabbath was a point of disagreement between Christ and his critics. (CCC 2173)

Ch 13:16 Whom Satan bound: Demonic influences can impact physical health, inflicting a person with a “spirit of infirmity” (Lk 13:11). Relieving someone from the effects of illness, infirmity, or, as in this case, possession is precisely within the spirit of observing the Sabbath. (CC 582)

Ch 13:18-21 Despite her humble beginnings and history of persecution, the Church founded by Christ, whose mission it is to build the Kingdom of God, will always endure, and no hardships or difficulties will prevail against her. (CCC 849, 857, 2660)

Ch 13:22-30 Christ invites everyone to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, salvation is no longer a birthright or privilege of the Chosen People alone. In spite of the long history of the Jewish people with the Scriptures and the prophets, many Gentiles who embraced the message of repentance wholeheartedly will enter the kingdom ahead of some of them. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that the first ones to follow Christ were members of the Chosen People. (CCC 60, 72)

Ch 13:24 Narrow door: The path to salvation is open and the invitation is clear, but following Christ requires self-renunciation, a life of deep prayer, and an unconditional love for everyone. (CCC 853, 1034, 1344, 2656)

Ch 13:31-35 Christ was often critical of the Pharisees, but only to correct their blindness to humility and charity. In fact, he enjoyed good relations with some members of this group. En route to Jerusalem, he mourned the failure of its inhabitants to receive the prophets and embrace his message of salvation. He knew-although the crowds of pilgrims would initially grant him an enthusiastic reception-eventually the forces that sought his Death would have their way. (CCC 557, 575, 585)

Ch 14:1-6 The scribes and Pharisees tried to entrap Christ with an invitation to a Sabbath dinner that was attended by a man with dropsy, a form of edema. This disease was thought to be the result of sin, therefore, making the man ritually impure. Christ not only healed the man on the Sabbath but touched him as well, both of which were transgressions of the Sabbath in the eyes of the Pharisees. Christ’s “son and ox” argument shows it is permissible to do good works on the Sabbath even under the Jewish Law. (CCC 575, 582, 588)

Ch 14:7-14 Christ offered lessons in humility and charitable generosity, urging his listeners to seek neither honor nor reward. (CCC 2559)

Ch 14:15-24 The Parable of the Banquet repeats the theme of the universal call to salvation. When the Chosen People found excuses not to accept the invitation to the banquet, the host instead invited those who were disenfranchised-the sick, the poor, and anyone else he could find. Whereas some of the Jewish people rejected the invitation, the Gentiles came to fill their places. The parables is an allegory of the intense joy so characteristic of the Kingdom of God and the image of the wedding celebration points to the heavenly banquet celebrated by the angels and saints in Heaven. (CCC 1344, 1382, 2770)

Ch 14:25-35 Christ clearly instructed his listeners about the call to discipleship. We must devote ourselves to him without compromise and bear whatever trials or opposition may come. Christ is not calling on his disciples to “hate” their parents and families but rather to make him our first love. (CCC 1618)

Ch 14:33 Detachment from worldly things is a demand of every disciple of Christ, who must put God’s will and the pursuit of holiness above all else. (CCC 2544, 2556)

Ch 14:34 In addition to giving taste to food, salt is used as a preservative. However, when salt deteriorates, it loses its preservative qualities. Christ calls upon all the faithful to maintain a vibrant, living faith and virtues at all times so as to be the “salt of the earth.” (CCC 782)

Ch 15:1-32 This chapter goes to the heart of the Gospel itself: God’s limitless mercy and forgiveness as revealed through Christ. (CCC 1846-1848)

Ch 15:1-10 Sharing a meal was a sign of friendship and reconciliation; thus, to the Pharisees, Christ appeared to be accepting of sinners. He used this opportunity to show that his mission is to call sinners to repentance, for which there is more reason to rejoice than there is to over those who have never strayed from the faith. (CCC 1443, 589, 545)

Ch 15:3-10 Just as a shepherd gathers his scattered flock and seeks out those sheep who have been lost, Christ, the Good Shepherd, desires to call all his people together as one and to reconcile the wayward sinner back into the fold. As successors to the Apostles, the bishops-as well as the deacons and priests who assist them-are entrusted with the preeminent task of being good shepherds. However, every Christian is called to be a good shepherd to family members and friends, leading them always to Christ. (CCC 545)

Ch 15:11-32 In distancing himself from his father, the prodigal son felt initially the exuberance of misguided liberty. However, before long, he lost his dignity, his joy, and the meaning of his life. Yet, the father was eager to forgive his son at the first sign of his return and accepted him not as a slave but as a full member of the family. Upon encountering his son, the father was euphoric over the fact that his son had “come back to life.” This parable manifests God’s great mercy and forgiveness. (CCC 1436-1439, 2838-2839)

Ch 15:18-24 The return of the prodigal son mirrors that of a penitent in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. The son examined his conscience, had contrition for his sins, desired to make reparations, journeyed home, confessed his sins, and entrusted himself to his Father’s mercy. He was then absolved and joyfully welcomed back into the family. The robe, ring, and banquet symbolize the new life of the penitent who is reconciled with God and the Church. (CCC 1447-1449, 1482-1483, 1491-1492, 1699-1700)

Ch 15:18 I will arise...before you: Conversion is the first step in returning to the Father after being separated from him by sin; it is only by such conversion of heart that we can become reconciled to God. Conversion requires contrition or sorrow as well as purpose of amendment. Contrition, in turn, involves self-knowledge and honesty in recognition of personal sins. Contrition and purpose of amendment are required for a good Confession. (CCC 1422-1423, 2794-2795)

Ch 15:22-32 This parable provides an insight into why Christ associated with sinners. He was effectively inviting them to conversion and repentance so as to restore them to full membership in his family. It bears mentioning that the purpose of the Incarnation was to bring sinners to everlasting life. (CCC 589)

Ch 15:32 Your brother was dead, and is alive: The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is a true spiritual resurrection, especially in the case of mortal sin, which deprives the sinner of sanctifying grace. (CCC 1468)

Ch 16:1-15 The unjust steward in this parable was lazy and dishonest, but when faced with termination, he settled many of his master’s accounts by negotiating a reduced balance with those who owed his master money. This impressed the master not because it compensated for the poor work his steward had previously done but because it showed a resourceful canniness toward provisional advantages shortly to be lost. Christ told this story to remind his disciples that their material advantages would likewise be taken away by earth, so they must use their earthly goods in the way most advantageous for their situation after death, that is, in the way that would lead to their salvation. 

Steward: A high-ranking servant who managed an estate. Christians are called to be stewards of creation. (CCC 952)

Ch 16:9-15 While the lesson is about detachment from wealth, Christ also stressed urgency and readiness for the master’s call. We must place God, our own Master, above possessions. 

Mammon: Aramaic for “wealth.” If riches become our first love, then we cannot give our hearts to God. (CCC 2113)

Ch 16:13 This verse applies today in the context of social justice. Businesses and governments must not place concerns for profit, productivity, and prosperity over the needs, dignity, and development of the human person. (CCC 2424)

Ch 16:15-18 The Gospel message of Christ supersedes the Law and prophets in the sense of perfecting them rather than nullifying them. Christ’s statement on marriage provides an example of this perfection of the Law. While the Mosaic Law tolerated divorce and remarriage in certain cases, the New Law of Christ restores God’s original intent spelled out in Genesis that marriage must be an exclusive, indissoluble, lifelong union. A valid and consummated marriage can end only with the death of one of the spouses. Marital fidelity is one of the special traces of the Sacrament of Matrimony. (CCC 2382)

Ch 16:19-31 The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich man is remarkable for its graphic imagery of the afterlife. (CCC 1859, 2463, 2831)

Ch 16:22 Abraham’s bosom: Those deceased who were faithful to the Old Covenant had yet to await their Redemption by Christ. These are the souls whom Christ visited after his Death in order to free them and bring them to eternal happiness in Heaven. This is the meaning of the term “hell” in the Apostles Creed when we say, “He descended into hell.” (CCC 631-632)

Ch 16:23 Hades: A Greek term used to translate the Hebrew word Sheol, indicating the palace of the dead, which was a state for both the righteous (cf. Lk 16:22) and the damned, who were separated by an impassable gulf. (CCC 633)

Proverbs 26:11 A dog that returns to his vomit: Conversion requires the total rejection of sin. Without a firm resolution to avoid future sin, a person is very likely to fall back into his or her former habits of sin. Peter quoted this proverb when he wrote of those who had converted to Christianity but were “again entangled in [their sins] and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Pt 2:20-22). (CCC 1490)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Table Fellowship 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much for your Word, your Word made flesh. But also your Word spoken to us in these parables, your Word spoken to us in teaching us that we are called to strive after you, that we are called to belong to you. Also that you love us and rejoice over us. Lord God, help us both to strive after you and to receive the joy, to enter into the joy, that you have for us and that you cry out over us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”