In the recent trip around the diocese, I’ve been out of Internet access, so sorry for the late post on the 4th Sunday of Lent. I want to share just a brief thought or two on yesterday’s famous Gospel regarding the prodigal son.
First of all, the parable is a marvelous teaching of the consequenses of the misuse of our most precious gift of freedom. Interestingly, the story begins with the younger son asking: “Father, give me my share of the inheritance…” (Luke 15:12) This is a clue to the real meaning of the story. If we were to ask the Father for our share of the inheritance coming to us, we would be reminded of the treasure that is ours! Our inheritance is eternal life; life in the presence of the Father. St. Paul tells us numerous times in his epistles: “…we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16-17) So, this is what we are “wandering away from” (Luke 15:13) when we freely choose sin.
The younger son also reveals to us the consequences of our sin. The fact that the son after receiving his inheritance went off to a foreign land, indicates the great separation sin causes in our relationship with God. Sin not only distances us from God and one another, but also from our very self. This consequence of sin is actually a negative proof that we are created for relationship with God, that we are created for love. This feeling of separation is actually a gift from God meant to help us “come to our senses” (Luke 15:17), as did the younger son and return to the Father.
Ultimately, this beautiful parable of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel is about the infinite mercy, patience, and love of God. Jesus comes from the Father, in order to reveal this love to the world. After His death and resurrection, Jesus returned to the Father, and the will of the Father through the work of Jesus is to redeem and unite us to the Father for eternity. Surely the offence of the younger son is great, yet the Father’s compassion and love immediately and lavishly restored the son to the family with all the former rights and priveledges. Surely this is what the saving work of Jesus accomplishes for us; restoration to the family of God!0