Sunday, September 12, 2010

Then he said, "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.'" Luke 15: 11-32

Today's very long Gospel reading contains a very important message, and I hope that you all heard the long version so that you were exposed to this parable. One of the Devil's most favored tactics to separate us from the faith is to tell us that we are beyond hope, that we have sinned so much that God has given up on us and we are certainly damned. The idea, of course, is that a man without hope of salvation has no reason to behave like a man in search of salvation. This is, of course, a lie, and what we find in the parable of the Prodigal Son is a God who loves us and never stops seeking us out no matter what we do against Him. It doesn't matter how many sins we commit, how far we drive ourselves away from God and His Truth, because He will always be there waiting for us when we return. It is also good to look at the Second Reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy, where Paul gladly acknowledges his own sinfulness because he knows that God's mercy and love are most apparent when we come to him in our sin and ask for His forgiveness. We all sin and fall short of what we should be, but that is no reason for despair because God is Love and He will never abandon or disown us. We are His children in our sin, even in the moment of our commission of sin, and He is always waiting to rejoice when we come to our senses and seek Him out again. How blessed indeed are we to have this wonderful gift, to know that our God loves us so much that He will suffer infinite disrespect from us without ever rejecting us or turning His back on us.

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