Lent 4 :: Forgiveness a’int easy

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you…”

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The color purple has been used for two millennia by the church as symbolic of the royalty of Christ, in whose name priests and bishops pronounce God's forgiveness to penitents. Hence the use of purple was traditionally reserved for the liturgical seasons of repentance—Advent and Lent—in which the people of God are reminded of their need to rely on the grace of God offered through the forgiveness of God.

You know, sometimes asking for forgiveness can be almost as difficult as it was for 1st c. Palestinians to make purple dye [a rather labor intensive process utilizing the glands of a carnivorous sea snail!]. Think of how the Prodigal Son in today’s Gospel passage must’ve felt when he first saw his father after his foolhardy adventure away from home. He had every right to suspect that dear old dad would read him the riot act. Asking forgiveness in that context seems a herculean task indeed. And granting forgiveness is likewise not an easy thing to accomplish: just ask the older brother about that!

Fortunately, for us, granting forgiveness is easy for God. Like the father in our story, God runs out to meet us when we recognize our wrongdoing and seek reconciliation with God—and with our family, friends, and neighbors.

Perhaps someday we will be able to forgive others, and ourselves, just as easily.

RCL Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C

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