11-March-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Cardinal O'Malley describes God as merciful father

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, said on Sunday that the Gospel of the prodigal son shows how God is a "good and merciful father unlike any other."

"He is a father who receives us with open arms every time we return to him. This is the meaning of the parable that is presented to us today," he said during his homily at his titular church in Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria.

Since cardinals are part of the clergy of Rome, each is given a titular parish for which they are responsible to support and care. Santa Maria della Vittoria is the home of Bernini's sculpture of the ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila, which Cardinal O'Malley jokingly said he was going to take back to Boston after the conclave.

Turning to the Gospel reading, Cardinal O'Malley said God is a father who "receives us with open arms every time we return to him," in a translation provided by "The Good Catholic Life," Boston's Catholic radio station.

"The parable is about a son who wants to live his life without the father, without God," but God is always near to those who seek him, said the cardinal.

He said that today, some leave the Father's house - the Church, for reasons such as ignorance, lack of acceptance, negative experiences and scandal, and spiritual mediocrity.

Eventually, Cardinal O'Malley said, the prodigal son realized his state and prepares himself "to declare his repentance: I have sinned against heaven and against you. Like a young man who is waiting in line at the confessional, practicing what he's going to say to the priest."

"The prodigal son walks slowly towards home, as human repentance is often slow."

"The father, who represents Divine compassion, runs swiftly," he said, and " had waited every day for his return."

The father in the parable "shows mercy to the prodigal son and teaches mercy to his brother," according to Cardinal O'Malley.

"We find ourselves before a father who surprises us with his goodness, a father great in his weakness, who loves us beyond all common sense."

Faced with this superabundant love, Lent is the "right moment to return to God" through confession, "permitting the Father of all, who is always waiting for the return of the one who is lost, to 'throw a party.'"

The Church, Cardinal O'Malley said, should show the same "merciful zeal" to prodigals as did the father in the parable.

He reminded his listeners that "every person is a seeker of God and of happiness, but at times we seek Him where He is not."

"The Church reminds us continuously that it is only in God that the thirst of the human heart can be satisfied."

Lent, he said, is a time to return to the family of the Church, and to the God who "came to the world to seek his prodigal sons and daughters."

Cardinal O'Malley concluded by reflecting on the upcoming conclave, which will begin tomorrow afternoon.

"Let us pray that the Holy Spirit illumines the Church to choose a new Pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=7212#ixzz2NeLoWZiD

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