4th Sunday of Lent (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

I have a problem in writing this homily. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is so clear and detailed in its presentation of sin, love, and forgiveness that it seems any further comment would be superfluous. It is best to just let the story stand by itself - perhaps to listen to it again. If I were the one on the pulpit, I would just re-read the whole story . It is like watching a beautiful sunset.. Any verbal description of the colors, the cloud formations, and the reflections of the light cannot capture its beauty. It is best to just watch the sunset.

Action starter: Who are you in the story?

What we can do perhaps is to comment on one hand on our own human tendency to commit sin. On the other hand there is God’s Unconditional Love. There is human misery and there is divine mercy.

We humans cannot seem to be satisfied with what we already have. It started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything to make them happy. They had each other. They enjoyed the earth’s bounty. They were near to God. All these they lost because of one forbidden fruit. Of the different kinds of fruits that the garden had to offer, our first parents were drawn to the forbidden one. And so was the prodigal son. He had everything to enjoy in his father’s house but he was drawn to new adventures and experiences. Isn’t this true with us? We are doing fine and we are living a happy life, then we get a wild idea to get rich quickly or perhaps to make life more exciting, to have an affair. We take shortcuts and we get lost.

We do not come to our senses easily. It is like the driver who is lost in a strange town and who keeps driving around, too proud to ask directions. Oftentimes we have to reach bottom before we come to our senses, just like the prodigal son. He reached bottom when he had to eat what the pigs were eating. Take note that in their culture the pig was considered the dirtiest of animals.

When we do come to our senses, we punish ourselves. We feel we do not deserve our former status as a member of the family. We want to be treated like hired hands. We are back but we do not want to come near.

The older brother’s attitude was also very human. We count and we take measures. We note who is deserving and who is not deserving. We give merits and demerits. These are all normal human activities. We fill in evaluations, performance ratings, and promotional reports. We know who is where in the hierarchical ladder. This is the human way. To bring back the black sheep and to promote the one who has put the institution to shame is unheard of.

That brings us to the main message of this story. God’s ways are not our ways. We are also challenged to go beyond mere human ways. We are invited to be like the Father in His loving and forgiving unconditionally.

Thanks be to God that God is like that. Otherwise we would forever be lost.