“Father- I Have Sinned”Originally written: March 14, 2010
©2012 James Dacey, Jr. OFS
Here we are today celebrating the 4th Sunday in Lent; a most joyous and exciting time as Lent continues to move us closer to Easter. Today's gospel is yet another parable, how lucky is that, to have 2 parables, two days in a row. Today we are reading Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 (The Parable of the Prodigal Son), a well-known parable, one that shares so much wisdom and insight. Today we will touch on the joy that we hear about in the fathers words. Like I had mentioned last week, this is a week that we will focus on Joy as our theme leading up the Solemnity of St. Joseph on Friday. Let us begin by defining the word "prodigal".
Prodigal (prod·i·gal): 1. characterized by wasteful expenditure: lavish 2. recklessly spendthrift
Now that is right to the point, key words I see that well represent the younger son in this parable are: wasteful and recklessly. The younger son boldly rejected his family, his home and even his father. All he wanted was what he felt was owed to him, as if his father was dead. The younger son was rudely beyond, what I think anyone in today's time would ever tolerate. But clearly at that time he was entitled by law to his share; but because his father was alive when he made his demand, he had no right.
There are two statements made by the younger son to his father that stands out to me in this parable, and they are: "Give me" and "Make me". The "Give me" is a demand by the son, and the "Make me" is a request, a plea. These two statements are on complete opposite of the spectrum of thought. When the younger son wanted his money and wanted to selfishly go do what he wanted with it, he had to be arrogant about it. I can't how it can be thought of in any other way. How can someone go up to a parent, demand their inheritance, take it, and leave? It had to be a very cold experience for the father. And then when you read about what the son did and how he came to his senses; that arrogance that he once had was gone, he was humbled by his stupidity of choices he made. So he thought, "make me like one of your hired men" v.19. To me I see him thinking that all the security and love he once had was lost; and all he can do is be in the presence of his father and to be with those who serve him, he will be fine. He knew by what he had done with the way he treated his father, that he didn't even deserve that.
This parable is understandable so popular because of the parallel that is so easily noted here. We are in essence the prodigal son in many ways and the father is God our Father. The older son can be thought of as satan, or those who aren't happy about our faith and who feel we are unworthy of the love, forgiveness and mercy that God gives us. See how powerful this parable is. Jesus is plainly telling us that no matter how we treat Him, no matter how rude, how arrogant and mean we are; God forgives embraces and celebrates the moment we return to Him. The younger son’s father was ecstatically filled with so much joy seeing his son return home. In Fr. Mullally's homily in 2010, he pointed out a very important insight about happiness and joy: "Happiness exists but goes, Joy stays." That's the joy I keep telling all of you that I have inside my heart, and endless, overflowing, over abundant amount of joy. Jesus wants so much for us to experience that joy, he wants us to know how wonderfully splendid it feels having His love deep inside our hearts 24/7/365.
What can we do? How can we gain by such a wonderful teaching? I don't know where to begin. We can really dissect this parable and if we really are honest and open to all aspects of it; we might be able to see how we maybe at some point in our lives played the role of all these people in this parable. Let's see what I mean: The Father (can be someone openly accepting loving someone who has hurt or offended them). The Son (can be anyone who has openly rejected Jesus, or God or someone they love). The Older Son (can be someone who criticizes the kindness and mercy of another). But today we will look at the JOY, the father has for his lost son who has returned to him. Let me say something about Joy, it is without a doubt the most powerful, everlasting blessing anyone could ever receive. I see it in my life as a gift, one that has been given to me, and with it, I must share and spread it to everyone. Let's look at the definition to the word: joy.
JOY (joi) 1. a. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion: gaiety 2. a state of happiness or felicity: bliss 3. a source or cause of delight.
Today's Challenge: Open your heart today to someone who has hurt you, offended you, or outright closed you out. Maybe send a note, make a call or give a hug. Don't ask for anything from them, instead; give them your love and allow your joy to overflow into their lives.
“Jesus, I Trust in You.”
and His Most Precious Mother Mary,
Jimmy (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS