Thought for Saturday, 2nd Week of Lent (March 18, 2017)
LUKE 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
We have all heard the story of the Prodigal Son many times. What can we learn from this story?
1) The younger son expected his father’s inheritance. The father willingly gives his inheritance to his son. In the same way, God the Father gives us many gifts, even when we do not deserve them.
2) The prodigal son thought he would find happiness in the things of this world. Do we seek happiness in the things of this world? In material things? In relationships? Only God can fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts.
3) After he realized his mistake, the prodigal son was afraid to go back to the Father. He thought his father would judge him and be very angry. We too are afraid to return to God the Father because we think He is going to judge us. How can God forgive me for the sins I have committed?
4) In great fear, the prodigal son returned to the Father. What is beautiful is that the Father was waiting for the son daily, hoping he would return. In the same way, God the Father is awaiting our return daily from our sinful ways. He cannot wait for us to come back to Him.
5) The Father does not judge his son, but he throws a party because his son was lost and now was found. In the same way, there is a party in heaven when we repent from our sins. Scripture says, “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than for 99 who have no need of God’s mercy.” (Luke 15:7)
6) The older son became jealous of the attention that his father was giving his brother. And yet, the Father said to him, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.” We too may be jealous of God’s generosity to others. But God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He offers us His grace and love in abundance every moment of every day. Do I allow myself to rejoice in God’s love for me right now? Or am I jealous of how generous God is with others, even when they do not deserve it?
Do expect things from God that do not really belong to you?
Have you ever felt sinned so strongly that you felt that God could not forgive you?
Have you experienced the infinite mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Have you felt like the older brother, jealous that God is so generous with those who seemingly do not deserve His love and mercy?
Let us take time this weekend in silent prayer to thank God for His mercy and love that is beyond our understanding.