Posted by: fvbcdm | February 23, 2013

Feast of Saint Polycarp (23 Feb 2013)

One of the most precious gems in all the gospels is our Lord’s story which is usually called “The Prodigal Son.” Actually, it’s the story of two sons and their relationship with their father and with one another. We all know the story: the younger boy asks his father for his share in the family inheritance. That was not ordinarily done until the father died, but here the kind father gives the boy what he wants, and the boy goes off to enjoy his money. And, as the saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Pretty soon, he has nothing left, and a famine occurs in the land where he is living. He goes to work on a farm where he is given a job feeding pigs—a terrible disgrace for a Jew who considered pigs unclean animals. And even worse, he is given little or nothing to eat, so that he envies the pigs the swill he pours into their troughs. Our Lord REALLY knows how to paint a picture of the degradation of sin!


So the young man realizes that even the hired hands on his father’s farm live better than he is, so he goes home. While he was still a long way off, the father catches sight of him. Why? Obviously, because he had been looking for him, hoping that he would come home. When the hungry, dirty, bedraggled young man comes closer, he begins his carefully-prepared speech: “Father, I am not worthy to be called your son. But will you let me work on the estate with the hired hands?” While the boy is giving his little talk, the father is issuing orders: kill the fatted calf; bring a ring for his finger, shoes for his bare and sore feet; get musicians; invite our friends; we must have a party to celebrate my son’s return!


And now the action switches to the other son who is coming in from the fields and finds a party in progress in his home. He knew nothing about this. When he finds out what’s going on, he is furious and refuses to go into the house to celebrate the return of this good-for-nothing wastrel. The father comes outside to beg him to come in. But he will not. He won’t call the returnee “my brother,” but rather “this son of yours,” contemptuously. The story ends with the foolish prodigal inside, the center of attention and celebration and delight, and the older, faithful brother outside in the cold and the dark because he won’t forgive his younger brother.


Where are you in this story? Do you see yourself as a sinner, who asks God’s pardon frequently for your wanderings away from the life of love in our Father’s house? Or do you see yourself as one who has always been faithful and virtuous, and is not inclined to forgive sinners or to celebrate their repentance and their return to our Father’s house? Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown., O.P.


Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

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