Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land, where he squandered his wealth in loose living. Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place, and was sent to work on a pig farm. So famished was he, that he longed to fill his stomach even with the food given to the pigs, but no one offered him anything.
Finally coming to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will get up and go back to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against God, and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Treat me then as one of your hired servants.’ With that thought in mind, he set off for his father’s house.
He was still a long way off, when his father caught sight of him. His father was so deeply moved with compassion that he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But the father turned to his servants: ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Bring out the finest robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Take the fattened calf and kill it! We shall celebrate and have a feast, for this son of mine was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found!’ And the celebration began.
Meanwhile, the elder son had been working in the fields. As he returned and approached the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what it was all about. The servant answered, ‘Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father is so happy about it that he has ordered this celebration, and killed the fattened calf.’
The elder son became angry, and refused to go in. His father came out and pleaded with him. The son, very indignant, said, ‘Look, I have slaved for you all these years. Never have I disobeyed your orders. Yet you have never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours returns, after squandering your property with loose women, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
The father said, ‘My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.’”
READ: Having settled in the Promised Land, the Israelites no longer need manna from heaven. In Christ, we enter a new world—reconciled to God, set free to become ambassadors of reconciliation. In his parable, Jesus tells a story of reconciliation—a passage from death to new life.
REFLECT: It has been said that we all want judgment for others, but mercy for our- selves. For the guardians of “true religion” there is nothing more scandalous that Jesus does than show mercy to “sinners and tax collectors.” His detractors are like the “elder brother” of the parable, the one who has always done what is right and obeyed the rules, and who is scandalized by his father’s forgiveness toward his wayward brother. Yet God’s mission in Christ was to reconcile sinners. His very nature is Mercy. As Pope Francis says, God is more ready to forgive than we are to seek forgiveness.
PRAY: Lord, have mercy on us, and forgive us when we fail to show mercy.
ACT: Reflect on the three characters in Jesus’ parable. With which one do you most identify: the son who seeks mercy? The father who bestows mercy? Or the elder son, who resents the father’s mercy? What does each of them have to teach you?
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019