There are two values that Jesus wants his disciples to make their own: the kingdom and the Father. As Jesus nears Jerusalem where His Cross will be raised as a sign of the love of God for all men, he tells the Pharisees and experts of the Law about the mercy of God and the way He deals with sinners. This he does using a series of parables meant to challenge a mentality that judges men and women according to the criteria of the respectable society and not according to the Father’s criteria.
We have had several occassions for explaining parts of Luke 15. Check out the following articles:
- Luke 15:1-32 for Lent Year B
- Luke 15:1-32 for Lent Year C
- Luke 15:1-32 for 24th Sunday in OT Year C
- Mystical Geek: Interiority, Memory and Return
For the Mag-aral Tayo guide for Luke 15, go to this page.
An explanation of the reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 is available at Your Daily Inspiration.
Guide to the Reading of Luke 15
A very minimal reading guide for Luke 15 is presented in this page.
As you read Luke 15, notice the following:
- The episode begins with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law reacting to the way Jesus welcomes publicans and sinners. The series of parables Jesus tells in this chapter is actually a response to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.
- Be sensitive to the phrases that are repeated in vv. 4-10. Jesus may be talking about lost sheep and lost coins in these parables, but the phrases that are repeated in these parables should draw your attention to the same underlying message. These phrases will again be repeated towards the end of the parable in vv. 11-32.
- Read vv. 11-32 and try to answer the following questions
- Who are the main characters in this story? When do these characters show up?
- How is the character of the younger son developed in the parable? When does he decide to return? When does the story of the prodigal son end?
- How is the character of the father developed in the parable? At which points in the story does he act? At the end of the parable, whose words stand out?
- How is the character of the older son developed in the parable? How does he react to what the father did? Is his reaction similar to the reaction of the Pharisees and experts of the Law at the beginning of the episode? Explain your answer.
- What are the similarities of this parable to the preceding parables in Luke 15?
- Who is the principal character in the parable in vv. 11-32?
Review of the Readings
The first reading is taken from the Golden Calf episode of the sojourn in the desert. God had just made a covenant with his people, but these latter seem to have short-term memory problems. As soon as Moses disappears from their sight, they begin to fashion a Golden Calf, with Aason, the newly ordained priest, leading the way. The wealth that the Israelites brought out of Egypt was used to build the Golden Calf which they began to worship as "the God who brought you up from Egypt." God decides to wipe out Israel because of this act of rebellion. Moses, however, intercedes for Israel asking God to remember the covenant he made to Abraham,Isaac and Jacob. This episode ends with God listening to Moses and does not carry out his decision to destroy them. The responsorial psalm is a combination of Psalm 51 and Luke 15:18, the words expressing the younger son’s desire to return to the Father.
The second reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 is Paul’s personal testimony about his experience of God’s mercy. An explanation of the reading is found here. The responsorial psalm,Paul’s testimony about the way he has been "treated mercifully" prepares us for the Lucan chapter on the Father’s mercy.
Suggestions for the Lesson
After the lessons about discipleship during the previous Sundays, Jesus presents to us the central value in his "kingdom spirituality" — the Merciful Father. But note however that far from giving us a "mushy" presentation of Divine Mercy, Luke takes care to point out that the parables of the Lost and Found and that of the Prodigal Father are told to those who have problems with Jesus’ style of welcoming those who are considered unredeemable.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes use of Luke 15. Below is a table of the paragraphs where parts of Luke 15 are quoted or alluded to. Just run your cursor over the references for the text of the CCC.
- Luke 15
- CCC 1443, 1846
- Luke 15:1-2
- CCC 589
- Luke 15:7
- CCC 545
- Luke 15:11-32
- CCC 545, 2839
- Luke 15:11-31
- CCC 1700
- Luke 15:11-24
- CCC 1439
- Luke 15:18
- CCC 1423, 2795
- Luke 15:21
- CCC 2795
- Luke 15:23-32
- CCC 589
- Luke 15:32
- CCC 1468
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.