Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 5: From the Brother Who Was Lost…

From the Brother Who Was Lost…

“There was a man who had two sons; the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me,’ ” says Jesus as he begins the dramatic story of that young man: the adventurous departure from his father’s house, the squandering of all his property in a loose and empty life, the dark days of exile and hunger, but even more of lost dignity, humiliation and shame and then nostalgia for his own home, the courage to go back, the father’s welcome. The father had certainly not forgotten his son, indeed he had kept unchanged his affection and esteem for him. So he had always waited for him, and now he embraces him and he gives orders for a great feast to celebrate the return of him who” was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”

We know the story. The key here is to pause and ponder, as was mentioned on this site last night. It is not about recollecting an old story for the sake of mere decoration, of fond memory, of our own formation in faith. The parables of Jesus operate on many levels for different people. Where does this story find us? How does it prod at our sense of sin and penance where we are today?

Pope John Paul II invites us to see ourselves in the younger son:

This prodigal son is every human being: bewitched by the temptation to separate himself from his Father in order to lead his own independent existence; disappointed by the emptiness of the mirage which had fascinated him; alone, dishonored, exploited when he tries to build a world all for himself sorely tried, even in the depths of his own misery, by the desire to return to communion with his Father. Like the father in the parable, God looks out for the return of his child, embraces him when he arrives and orders the banquet of the new meeting with which the reconciliation is celebrated.

The most striking element of the parable is the father’s festive and loving welcome of the returning son: It is a sign of the mercy of God, who is always willing to forgive. Let us say at once: Reconciliation is principally a gift of the heavenly Father.

Tomorrow, … To the Brother Who Stayed at Home.

We will learn more of how to view the elder brother in section 6.

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

 

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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