THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON
I love the depth and various layers of Sacred Scripture…From a literal reading to addressing the spiritual meaning of a text. Thus, for those of you who heard my simple homily on the Prodigal Son…I now offer, from a friend, (Dynamic Catholic’s, Dr. Allen Hunt’s) message for this same parable…Enjoy and be blessed…Fr. Vic
“I don’t know about you, but today’s reading—this is my favorite chapter of the Bible. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. First you get the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go find the one that’s lost. Then you get the lost coin, where the woman goes in search of the one coin—she had ten, but there were only nine—and she goes to search high and low until she finds that one.
And then you get this powerful reading, which is our focus in the Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The parable of the lost son. The parable of the prodigal son, who goes to his dad—you remember the story—the younger son goes to his dad and asks for his share of the inheritance. And he takes the money, takes the cash, and he runs away to some faraway place, maybe he goes to Vegas and he squanders it, and he gets a job—he’s so desperate—feeding pigs, which, for a first-century Jew, is the lowest imaginable job. And one day he comes to his senses and says, “I’m gonna go home.”
And you get these powerful words that Luke says in the reading today when he writes: “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.”
That’s the love of God. Reckless, unbelievable in the truest sense of the word—we overuse that word, unbelievable, but it’s true. The love of God is so rich, so boundless, and so reckless. Do you believe it? I mean, what kind of love is this?
I call this “the Sacred Heart chapter” because it describes the heart of God that’s just bursting for you. Longing for you. God pursues you. How’s he pursuing you right now? And is there anything keeping you from coming home? What’s preventing you from coming home to him?
I don’t know how you read this chapter, but when I look at the three men in this, the father, the older son, and the younger son, I have to admit that I see myself in each of them, particularly at different times in my life.
Take the prodigal son. There have certainly been times in my life when I ran as far away from God and from greatness and from sanity as you can possibly get. And, when I’m honest, I would admit I still do it now and then today.
The father—becoming a parent, becoming a mom or a dad or a grandparent—it changes you. The love just bursts through when your daughter or your grandson decides to come home—when they return from a place that you wish they had never gone in the first place, but when they come home, you are more than delighted to welcome them back into the family.
And then there’s the older son. This is the part of me that I really would like to resist, but when I’m honest, I know it’s there. I see somebody else who makes bad decisions or hurts family or disappoints friends, and yet they are welcomed home. They even experience forgiveness and mercy. And I want to go, “Whoa, can we slow down this mercy train just a little bit? I’m not so sure they deserve it.” That’s the part of me I’m really not that crazy about. I really like unconditional love when it applies to me, but sometimes I’m not so crazy about it when it applies to other people—as if somehow some of us really deserve it.
None of us really deserve to be welcomed home, but it’s not about us. It’s all about him—the father, who sees from a distance, who runs to us, embraces us, welcomes us, kisses us, and throws the party. It’s all about him—the father, whose heart bursts with love for you and for me. This parable, it’s all about him.”…Dr. Hunt