The Prodigal Son

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)

“‘Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ No, says the Lord, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of any one; so turn, and live’ (Ezek. 18:23, 32).” (Note 1)

“‘as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children,’ so God has had pity on us….” (Note 2)

“And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” (Luke 15:11-32 (RSV))

Today’s readings and meditations are on the “Prodigal Son”.  I’ve always found this parable interesting because I always felt pity for the faithful brother who saw his brother live in sin, squander everything, come crawling back to be met with open arms and a feast and celebration.  It always made me want to say, “What the…?!”  I’m sure that’s what the faithful brother was saying/thinking.  He did everything right, and here his his brother, who squandered everything and did everything wrong — yet his father threw a lavish feast for him — seriously?!?!

As much as we want to question it, this is a story of grace and God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.  We can be — are, actually — awful people.  We sin everyday, some more than others, but we all sin, nonetheless.  Even with God’s grace we sin.  But, we overcome that sin, revive mercy and forgiveness for that sin when we cooperate with God’s grace by acknowledging our sins, confessing them and being truly repentant.  We are the prodigal son who returns every time we go to confession.  And God is the Father who throws a celebration with a feast to welcome us back into his loving arms.  We always try to be the faithful brother, but we always fail — but we are always welcomed back — the’s the Old Testament reading for today, “He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot.  Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  (Micah 7:19 (RSV))  Thank God for his mercy.

————————————-

Notes:

1.  Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 71.

2.  Bossuet, Meditations, 72.

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