A 60-year-old man has died and arriving at heaven‘s gate. St. Peter interviewed him “Have you ever loved a woman?“ He said “No, not even a single one“. “Did you have special friends?“ “No“, the man replied. “How about your parents, brothers and sisters?“ “I lost my parents as a child, and I have no brothers and sisters“. “Perhaps you have a pet that you cared for?“ “Have you any love for nature?“ “No“, was his reply. Peter shook his head in disbelief and asked, “what took you so long to get here? You have been dead for ages“ ( Adapted from Reader‘s Digest).
Three Lost Things
Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke (from where the Gospel of today is derived) talks about three lost things: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Loss is always associated with sorrow, especially when it has to do with loss of valuables. In these situations of loss, the owners made earnest efforts to recover their lost items. That could offer some explanation for the merciful father‘s attitude (as we could see in today‘s Gospel). He did not allow his son to ask for the role of a servant, because a hired servant was not a member of the family in strict sense. In his joy, he made him a full member of his family by giving him a robe (a symbol of honour), a ring (a symbol of authority) and shoes (a symbol of freedom).
The joy of the prodigal son arises as a consequence of his father‘s attitude towards him. He expected some sort of punishment from the father for a wasteful life. But to his surprise he was not punished, because separation from the family is itself a punishment. Little wonder St. Augustine said that we are meant for God and our souls are restless until they rest in God. That is why the prodigal son has to return to his father. Secondly, the awareness of his father‘s benevolence was a motivation for him to return home.
The brother of the prodigal son resents the father‘s joy at the brother‘s return. His rage is expressed in word and gesture: the refusal to enter house, the questioning of the servant, his response to his father‘s attempt to comfort him, whereby he refers to himself as a slave. He is like the religious leaders at the time of Jesus, who hated the fact that Jesus always hung out with the sinners. Hence, while the father was affirming the brother‘s status as a son, he won‘t even acknowledge that he is his brother. Rather he refers to him as “this son of yours“.
The father on the other hand refuses to exclude the younger son because of his past. But rather tries to convince the older son to celebrate the return of his brother with the words: “your brother was dead and has come back to life“ . Though the older brother already has everything the lost son is receiving – the love of the father and a double portion of the father‘s wealth – he was not happy, simply because he felt that his brother does not deserve the love and forgiveness of their father.
Today is Laetare Sunday. The liturgical readings, songs, celebrations and other devotional exercises of the Lenten period may not convey, at first sight, a sense of joy but of repentance: a return to God and to the neighbour, yet this return to God and to neighbour remains a joyful enterprise.
[Readings: Jos 5:9a, 10-12; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32]
Thank alot dear Mr Jerry for the encouragement. Remain blessed.
Very nice reflection. Thank You so much