Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Today’s Gospel is the very familiar parable of the prodigal son.
The word “prodigal” means something like “extraordinarily generous.” That description fits the father in the story more than the younger son. The son had squandered his inheritance in bad ways.
Nevertheless, the father welcomed him back home. He forgave him. Not only that, he threw a banquet, because his son, who had been lost, is now found.
So, the parable could really be called, the parable of the prodigal father. It shows that the father is extraordinarily merciful.
And, of course, Jesus tells this story for two reasons: first, to show that the father is really God our Father. God is extraordinarily merciful to us, even when we act a lot like the younger son.
Secondly, Jesus tells the parable to challenge us. Who are we? Which son do we imitate? Are we maybe like the older son — resentful, unforgiving?
Notice what the father does in relation to the older son. He relates to him with the same tenderness he had shown to the younger one. He doesn’t shout or order. With humble love “he tries to persuade him” to come and rejoice with the family.
That is the tragedy of the older son. Yes, he has been a very observant son. But now he is resentful. He will not accept the truth that God is a merciful and forgiving Father.
How often are we like the older son? Do we welcome others, even though they have sinned? When we sin, do we want to be welcomed back by our heavenly Father?
This can happen especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lent is a time to “do penance” and to receive again the Sacrament of Penance. God is waiting for us.
Reflection by Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB