Prodigal Father – Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
We have yet another opportunity this 4th Sunday of Easter to celebrate half-way to the celebration of Easter. This is why the readings of today talk about celebrations. The first reading talks about the entry of the Children of Israel into the promised land. They marked this with the celebration of the Passover.
In the gospel reading, however, we see a different kind of celebration. We see the celebration of a Father over the return of his prodigal son who left the home and lived a life of debauchery until he returned to his senses and returned home. It was his return home that his father celebrated.
There are several studies regarding this gospel that refer to the younger son as the prodigal one in line with the gospel but it is the Father who is prodigal. Prodigal means to lavish excessively. The Father running towards the son to welcome him exhibits this. It shows that the father has lavished excessive love and forgiveness towards his son. The Father takes the nature of God in our lives as He is infinite in mercy and interested in the salvation of all souls.
Humans are privileged beings. We are privileged to live in both the spiritual and material realms. This is different from Angels that live in the spiritual realm and Animals that live in the material realm. We are spiritual beings but living in the material realm where there are lots of temptations. This is why God is ready to forgive us anytime we derail and return to Him.
We should see ourselves in the image of the prodigal son for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We need to realise the history of our sins and move towards our Father who is ready to welcome us. In addition, we must realise that the older son is also prodigal. He has an identity crisis. He is filled with envy and unforgiveness. This made him unwilling to rejoice when his brother returned home.
Reading the gospel, we must ask ourselves where we belong among the 3 characters. Is it the Father who is full of second chances and willing to welcome even those that offend him? Or is it the younger son that commits sin but uses the sinfulness to experience the love and mercy of God? Or is it the elder brother who does not use God’s gifts but is full of envy and remains outside the house?
In addition, we must find out what our attitude towards God, others and ourselves is. We have to continue to call upon God to help us to remain repentant so that we do not end up like the elder brother who refused to join in the celebration due to envy. Psalm 51:3 says that our sins are ever before us. God knows and is waiting for us with open arms.
May God bless us and help us to remain in Him. Amen.