March 2, 2013

The Gospel Today

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Lk 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.’”

Reflection (Sem. Herwyn T. Bulaun)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the best known stories in the Bible that I can think of. It is a story of the contrasting personalities of two sons and their father’s generosity and love to each of them. I think it is good for us to look at the personalities of the two sons and see how God or the Father manifests His eternal generosity to each of them.

First let us look at the younger son. When he recognized that he offended and caused pain to his father, he accepted his fault and, with humility, asked his father’s forgiveness. He also knew the gravity of his actions that he never even wanted to be called as son, rather, a servant.   But upon approaching their house his father saw him and with open arms, he accepted him without any word.

Now let us look at the elder son. He served and did all the command of his father. He lived and did all he could just to please his father. He never intended to leave him alone nor took his part of their family’s wealth. But when he saw the love and generosity of his father towards his younger brother, he felt resentful and complained. He didn’t even want to see his younger brother in the feast that his father prepared for him.

Given the two characteristics, I believe that the gospel teaches us to have a deeper encounter with God especially this season of Lent. The younger son represents our sinfulness and unworthiness but because of the grace of God, through Christ we always turn to Him for forgiveness. On the other hand, the elder son forgets the real role of obedience to his father. He obeys only to comply with the expectations which makes him feel like proud and worthy of the goodness of his father. I believe that aside from obeying and recognizing God’s mercy and generosity, we are also challenged to serve and follow God with love and compassion.

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