|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come to Our Senses
Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 6, 2016
Some time ago my siblings and I were talking about Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal. It was before he told the truth; he was still claiming he had never taken drugs. I stated boldly that I believed Lance was a liar because so many people could not manufacture such similar stories. I foretold that one day he would come to his senses and tell the truth. “For his children’s sake I hope he tells the truth soon because the truth will be known at some point!”
My niece was an avid Lance Armstrong fan and one of my brothers made a bet with her for $100 that it would break in the news eventually. In fairness to her, a couple of months later, she handed over the $100 when the news broke of Armstrong’s admittance to taking the drugs for years.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed him asking, “What was the turning point for you?” He said when he saw his 11year-old son, Luke, arguing with one of his friends, defending his father, “My Dad is not a liar. My Dad has never taken any doping drugs. Never.” Lance Armstrong said his heart sank for he knew he was a liar and he knew he had doped. But now he was making his son a liar. He said that day changed his life.
That was the moment he came to his senses, much like the young man in today’s Gospel who had taken all the money from his father and squandered it on a self-indulgent life. But then he came to his senses and he turned back.
Yet even before the son could say the words of apology, “I have sinned against you,” the father had already welcomed him and embraced him. He had already forgiven him before any words came out of his mouth.
Like the prodigal son, God wants us to come to our senses and turn back to him. He wants us to know he waits with open arms, with mercy and forgiveness. The biblical expression of “coming to our senses” could be translated as “I looked deep within myself; I looked within and I had to change.” The challenge of Lent is to come to our senses, to turn inward and to turn back to God.
It is my experience, in many years of counseling people, that in every family, there is some hurt that has distanced someone. There is somebody, somewhere who is on the outside. Somebody who has done something or said something and they are just no longer part of the family. Nobody even brings up their name anymore because we are afraid to get into a big argument.
Maybe it is time for us to come to our senses; maybe it is time for us to own our part in that and to look deep within and to say no more; no more lies; no more un-forgiveness. God who is all forgiving and all compassionate will give us the strength to be forgiving and to receive that forgiveness from others. Today, it is time to come to our senses.