Last Sunday, the Gospel reading was the “Prodigal son” reading. I spent a brief time away from the Catholic Church, post college era and stumbled back into Holy Name of Jesus, one Sunday back in 1982, only to hear the three-part reading of the shepherd leaving the flock to find one sheep, the woman celebrating the finding of a small, lost silver piece and the “Prodigal son” parable. I sighed when the reader began, as I always thought this was foolishness and my least favorite reading. Not an ounce of common sense went into any part of those stories. I identified the most with the son, toiling in the fields and watching from afar, the massive reunion and celebration of the return of the outcast brother who blew his inheritance, only to return and receive even more.
Fr. Arnold Weber was the homilist. He equated the woman finding a dime, at two a.m. and waking up all the neighbors to celebrate, to put it in modern time apples-to apples description. Stupid! Who would leave 99 sheep to be at the mercy of wolves and bears and thieves, only to go after one little lamb, knowing it would be easily replaced next breeding season, when all the ewes have their annual birthing events. Stupid! Stupid! As it turns out, God doesn’t use common sense and Fr. Arnie knocked it out of the park and delivered an awesome sermon. It’s now one of my favorite readings and I’m constantly reminded of how applicable it is to us Christians.
I now sit on the Board of Directors of Trinity Sober Homes, LLC, a charitable organization that houses post alcohol/chemical treatment, men over age 40 in one of our three different group homes in St. Paul. Many of our men feel they are not welcome back in their church communities as a result of their past behavior. Founded by my namesake, Fr. Marty Fleming and former 1970’s head of the Army Chaplin Corps, he tells our fragile residents that the Catholic Church is not a museum for saints, but more of a hospital for sinners and so is Trinity Sober Homes. www.trinitysoberhomes.org So many folks show up at our door step and feel they are not worthy.