In the Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis our spiritual lives are enriched with many books that ponder the experiences of mercy as reflected in the lives of our ordinary lives. Mercy is a concept that we sometimes have a great difficulty in understanding and sometimes a great difficulty in experiencing mercy as well. Jesus and the Prodigal Son, The God of Radical Mercy written by Father Brian J. Pierce, OP is an appropriate reflection on the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Father Pierce makes the parable of the Prodigal Son tangible to Catholic readers in an eloquent and theologically pregnant use of Sacred Scripture and a redaction of the life of Jesus as the methodology for discovering God the Father of Radical Mercy. In an especially personal and deeply touching introduction to his work, Father Pierce outlines the notion of the Gospels in Parallel, reflective of not only our own personal lives and experiences, but in theological parallel to the struggles of the familiar Prodigal Son metaphorically used by Jesus in His teachings.
The Sacred Scriptures begin the journey marked by Father Pierce as touchstones for himself and his life experiences, but also as a common point of our collective Catholic faith to elaborate on the dilemmas and struggles we all experience as prodigal sons and daughters striving to return home in faith to the Father…Abba! While reading this intensely theological appreciation of the parable of the Prodigal Son as applied to contemporary followers of Christ, the ever present presence of the Father’s love is transparent from the Incarnation, a redaction of the life and activities of Jesus as the prodigal son to finally the reconciliation of the Son with the Father, through the celebration of the meal.
The consistent usage of Abba, in reference to Father is significant. The usage indicates the need we all have to return to Abba, the Father or more colloquially, the Daddy regardless of what stage of life we are at either chronologically or spiritually in our journey towards the banquet of the great meal, provided to celebrate the Son’s return to Daddy’s love and forgiveness. Catholics experience mercy daily as a result of the great sacrifice Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection endured at Calvary. The Father ever merciful raised Jesus from the dead, overcoming the permanency of death and providing salvation for all humanity. Father Pierce’s work clearly shows all of us how the magnanimity of Abba effects us all in our eschatological understanding of our faith as we live our daily lives. Collectively, the parable of the Prodigal Son includes all of our lives and experiences with one another. The revelation of pragmatic and sometimes mundane events clearly provides a unique perspective on the manner through which we receive the Father’s mercy and in turn show mercy to others in our lives.
An intensely personal and intimate extrapolation of the author’s personal journey in life and faith, it offers a superlative resource for Catholics to contemplate the God of Radical Mercy during Lent and the Year of Mercy. Father Pierce’s book is published by Orbis Books and is available on their website at http://www.orbisbooks.com It is priced at $25.00.