By Sister Teresa Mary Dolan, MHSH
This fourth Sunday of Lent we are called to “come home” to hear the “good news” waiting for us. We have a Father, a Prodigal Father, waiting for us to claim the gifts of the Kingdom and our place in the heart of God.
We listen to the parable Jesus tells of the prodigal son [Lk. 15:8,11-32].
After we listen, we reflect and do some “thick” thinking on it. It’s helpful going back, time and time again, because when we first hear it we believe it’s all about the younger son who decided not to wait until his father died to get his inheritance. He wanted it now, while he could enjoy it. He couldn’t wait to get his hands on that money and to get far away from home.
And he does just that. He goes off to a far country, squanders his money through dissolute living until he has nothing left. He winds up tending the swine and reflecting on the days at his father’s house, where he was loved and cared for and happy. He is lured into believing that he can go home again and ask his father to take him back—not as his son, but as one of servants. He knows that he does not deserve to be called a son.
Come to the Feast
In the parable, meanwhile, Jesus set the stage for what is going on in the big house. The father has never forgotten his son. He looks to the horizon to see if there is any sighting of him; one day he sees him coming. While the son is still a long way off, the father runs to meet him, throws his arms around him and brings him home. In his great joy he tells the servants to make preparations for a great feast: fine robes and jewels for his son, music and dancing, killing the fatted calf. His son had been dead and now he lives!
The older son wants to know what all the excitement is about. When the servants tell him, he becomes very angry. He refuses to come to the feast. He tells his father that no feast had ever been prepared for him and his friends.
The father is stunned to learn that the son thought he was not loved. He tells him that all that he has belongs to him and that he is always with him. But, he said, ‘”Your brother was lost and has been found. Come to the feast.”
Reflection: Give yourself periods of time to reflect on each of the sons. Try to assume the attitude of the younger one. Imagine leaving home, wasting the money, losing the false friends collected on the way, realizing you are not in a good place, and thinking that maybe you can work out a deal with your father?
Maybe you can go home?
Now assume the role of the older brother: self-righteous, always in control of things, resentful and jealous, and his response to the father when he discovers the merrymaking. Who is the honored guest?
Reflect on the father and on the difference it would make in your life if you were to become the Forgiving Father—this father who reaches out to meet the son and to welcome him home…this father who searches out the older son and pleads with him to be joyful at his brothers’ return.
Let God’s compassionate glance fall on you as he searches for you each morning, waiting for you to “come home” to him in a new way this Lenten season. The good news here is that you can “come home” to reclaim your gifts of the Kingdom and your place in the Heart of God.