It was said of Jesus: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15). We are the outreach of the heart of Jesus in our world. Wherever we are there are opportunities to be kind, merciful and of a healing spirit. Jesus said: “Freely have you received; freely give” (Mt 10). In some sense all human beings are prodigals. Even St. Therese of Lisieux realized that God had headed off the evils that seduce many and had protected her. Most of us have had to be forgiven and renewed after we had been seduced by this world. Most of us had been in some degree prodigal sons and daughters.
The Father of the Prodigal Son loved and reached out to two human beings who were surely not especially lovable. The one was a selfish and thoughtless youth. The other was a sour and self-righteous person. The reward of those who, like Jesus, welcome sinners and eat with them is to become very much more closely united with the heart of Jesus.
When I reach out to others, Lord, I am simply returning the favor you have done for me. Make me humble in my compassionate service to those to whom you send me. Abide with me, Lord; abide with us.