Prodigals - Welcome Home!

Franciscan Sisters TOR, prodigal son, mercy, parables, Year of mercy
art by Lisa Andrews, original in Father of Mercy Chapel
The Gospel from today's liturgy is a popular Gospel narrative that is usually a hot-topic for discussion. It is "The Prodigal Son", also called "The Parable of the Lost Son" (Luke 15:11-32). Some say this narrative should be titled "The Merciful Father" because the father's love in the story is that same type of "crazy love" (what some may deem foolish)  as the Love of God, our Father. And doesn't He have that same type of crazy, foolish love for each one of us?

There are two sons in the parable: the prodigal son and the older son. It seems that some tend to favor the older brother and feel sorry for him. When praying with this parable and listening to the voice of God, we may come to see that at different times in all of our lives or seasons of life, we can associate with each son and at times, even the Father. 

"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." (Luke 15:12-13)

The younger son wanders from his Father's love until he returns home to him, destitute and repentant. And he says to his father, "‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son." 

"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." (Luke 15:25-28)

The older son stays home with his father, but does he love? He says to his father, "‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders" (Luke 15:29) 

But, is he just focused on what he is doing and not who he is  and who he is called to love? 

The older son appears legalistic and unmerciful in his response to his brother's return and his father's embrace. 

He refused to join the party because he felt the power to judge not only his younger brother for his wayward actions but also his father's love and mercy!

When we question the Lord, when we attempt to force our will upon Him, we are not too different from the older brother. We may be doing very good and holy things (like attending Mass, praying regularly, fasting etc.) but are we always looking down at His hands to see what He has to give us in return, or are we looking into the loving and merciful gaze of Christ?

Do we believe that God's love is earned and weighed by what we do? 

Or do we trust in who we are and whose we are called to be?

God is Love!! We cannot change who God is and what He does. He loves us if we wander or stay right at home. 

When we get caught in the "older brother syndrome", and we want to chastise the Father for what He hasn't done for us, how prudent it would be to pray and evaluate our lives, thank the Lord for His mercy and not compare our life to another. (Easier said than done, right?). 

Our vision is impaired for we do not see like God. "...Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,..God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart." (1Samuel 16:7). We are all brothers (and sisters) and we have one Father, our Father, a Father whose love and mercy makes no sense to us because we are human, sinful, and weak; we are not God.

Like the younger brother we may have wandered away from "home" and squandered the Lord's mercy and love, only to find out that no matter how many things we hold on to, we are still empty without accepting the Father's invitation to love - both God and neighbor.

ring, Franciscan SIsters, profession ring, TOR Sisters, mercy
In spite of our younger brother/older brother tendencies, the Father is always waiting for us. God our Father is always waiting for us to return to Him; He is calling us, watching for us. Run to Him, into His merciful embrace. "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." (Luke 15:20). 

Let Him place a ring of covenantal love on your finger and the robe of mercy on your shoulders. Step into His embrace, join the party and "Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36)

"No matter how low we fall, the marks of our sins, the irons and the shackles that entrapped us, can be changed through the grace of the merciful Love into the jewels of the covenant. And out of our very scars, God creates our beauty. The sin is not only forgotten or "blotted out" as people say at times; it is forgiven, i.e., it becomes a theme of celebration of merciful love." 
(The Cantana of Love by Blaise Arminjon, S.J.)

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