The Gospel last Sunday (the 4th Sunday of Lent) was about the popular story of the Prodigal Son. A story of a younger son who asked for his inheritance early on in his life and squandered his wealth not only in a frivolous, but absolutely immoral and obscene ways. He spent all his fortune until the last penny until he ended up as a hired-hand, eating the food that was intended for pigs. He suffered in a place far away from his father and, amidst this suffering, which was also the product of his irresponsibility, he came to realize that in his father’s home there was plenty of food to soothe his hunger. And so, he decided to come home to his father. “Father, I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me instead as one of your servants.” This act of humility and repentance moved the heart of his father who embraced him close to his heart and clothed him with a fine robe on and placed a ring on his hand. The father held a feast for the return of his son who once was lost but was found. A son who once was dead but have risen back to life. It was a story of the prodigal son but more noteworthy was the gigantic love and forgiveness of a genuine father.
Notice, the father is not mean or angry with either. He condemns no one. In each instance he goes to his sons — watching the road for the homecoming of the prodigal, and leaving the house to go outside to talk with the angry and pouting elder son. It is the two sons, each in his own way, who diminish and tear themselves down. The younger, not recognizing the immense love of his father, feared that he would not be allowed back in the home; the elder with his selfishness, his envy and jealousy and with his resentment demonstrates vividly his imperfections. To the very end the father impresses on both of them the love he had for them — he is their father and this is their home, “All I have is yours!”
I know the old saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” But there is another saying that says “more flies are caught with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.” And especially the old adage, “Children are to be loved, not understood!” The Prodigal Father simply walks, as does Our Father in heaven with His philosophy, love and compassion.
This story is alive in us today because this was a story of every sinner like you and me. We are all prodigal sons and we are all irresponsible stewards of God’s grace and of his creation. We always turn our backs away from God’s loving embrace and go on our way, thinking that we have no need of God in our lives. Our world today has gone to point where the sense of God is slowly dying as day passes by. The present mentality that we are forced to embrace nowadays are direct attacks to our Christian convictions to follow Christ in his humility and charity. I wonder how some misinformed minds would eventually turn us from being good and embrace a culture that brings about death. It is a pity but this is the kind of reality that is being presented to us in this modern world.
But human as we are, with all our frailties and evil thoughts, all is not lost for us because God’s grace and forgiveness is immeasurable just like the Parable of the Forgiving Father. His grace is more than enough to cover all our sins and even those sins that we are just about to commit. One requisite, though, is the fact that it is us who needs to realize first our wretched situation and the darkness that we are in, and turn towards the light who is Christ. It needs our decision to realize our sinfulness and our conviction to follow Christ on his way to the foot of the Cross. After all, no one among us is perfect. What matters most in this life is not our falling into sin and immoral ways but our resolve to rise and stand up once again. Being humans, we always fall into sin but picking ourselves up again is what matters. We have to permit God to touch our lives and live in his grace thereon.
We are in the Lenten Season, a time for us to meditate on Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross. “He who never knew no sin was made sin for us”. All these demonstrate how immense is God’s love for all of us. God has loved us since day one of our lives and there is no question regarding that but how do we respond to that love what’s important to consider in our lives today. Let us be “victims” for that love and make of us a fitting vessel of God’s love and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters.