Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
A certain Irish priest, newly arrived in New York City, decided to visit the section known as the Bowery, haven of homeless alcoholics and other derelicts. As he walked along one of the Bowery blocks one dark night he suddenly felt a gun against his ribs. Then he heard a raspy voice: “All right mister, gimme all your money.” Quickly he reached for his wallet and, as he did, the holdup man noticed his clerical garb. The thief was overcome with shame. “Forgive me, father,” he said, “I didn’t know you were a priest.” To which the victim replied, “That’s all right son, just repent of your sin. Here, have a cigar,” “Oh, no thank you, father,” replied the thief, “I don’t smoke during Lent.”
This is the approach many of us take to a penitential season. We see it as a time for giving up things, and that is good. It is also very Biblical. “My knees are weak through fasting,” the Psalmist…
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