Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
We are on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The rose vestments today remind us that we are on Laetare (rejoice) Sunday and already half way through Lent. The Scripture readings today also give us great reason to rejoice especially in hearing the gospel. Today we hear the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel. It gives us several challenges to face in our Lenten Journey. We are all familiar with the characters of the story. Let us talk about the two sons for our reflections.
Both sons did not know who their father really was. Let us begin with the prodigal son. The prodigal son lived a life of dissipation in a distant country. While that is bad enough, he only came to his senses when there was a famine in that country. We might ask ourselves how much longer he would have continued in his squandering lifestyle had famine not struck the country. A worrying issue is that the prodigal son did not seem to know there was something wrong in his life, and only became aware of it when everything he had was taken away from him. I say that is worrying because if the prodigal son only figured it out when a natural disaster overcame him we might begin to wonder if we may have closed ourselves to God in any way without even knowing it like the prodigal son. Lent is to see where we are before God so that we do not end up like the prodigal son with the pigs.
There is another aspect to the prodigal son’s life that, he did not seem to know his father’s heart. When he eventually came to his senses and made up his mind to return home he did not know that he would be welcomed back by his father. He planned to become a servant. He did not know his own father or that his father was waiting all these years for him to return. He did not know that his father was merciful and wanted nothing else but his return. That is the second aspect of the prodigal son’s life that is worrying; not knowing his father’s heart. Are we keeping ourselves from God in any way because like the prodigal son we do not know that the heart of God is merciful and God’s desire is to have us in his house?
When we look at the older son who stayed at home with his father all his life we see something shocking. Like his brother he also did not know his father’s heart. He could not understand why his father had killed the fattened calf. He regarded himself as a slave as he talked about all the years he had served his father. There was no closeness between the older son and his father. The older son was dutiful but distant.
There is another aspect to the older son that also shocks us. He is so unlike his forgiving father; he is not forgiving. He does not want to forgive his brother and casts insults on his brother’s past. The older son became scandalized by his father’s mercy to his younger brother. God does not have a problem with forgiving us; it is we who have the problem with forgiveness. Contemplating the two sons in the parable, perhaps we could sum up Jesus’ teaching with the words he taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Let us return to our Heavenly Father with repentant hearts. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for a famine? Just look around us; it is already here. We face spiritual famine all around us in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, fraud and theft in the workplace, murders, abortions and violence, premarital sex, marital infidelity and priestly infidelity, as well as hostility between and among people. All of these evils have proliferated because we have been squandering God’s abundant blessings, not only in our country and in our families, but also in our personal lives. Hence, let us repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s home.
God Bless You,