Gospel for Sunday February 16, 2020

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen (بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس إلهٍ واحد آمين).

In the gospel lesson of St. Luke 15:11-32, we learn about a father who agrees to the Prodigal son’s wishes, because he wanted to leave his father’s house and to venture out on his own to a far country. In verse 15-16, our Lord spoke about a citizen, the Prodigal son befriended whereby the citizen gave the son a job to feed the swine (pigs). In the eyes of the Jewish people, swine were considered unholy, and unclean, but he did this out of sheer desperation because he had to eat in order to survive. In verse 17, after pondering over the way the Prodigal son was living (starving), and remembering even his father’s servants never went hungry, because there was always an abundance of food, the Prodigal son considers going back home. In order for him to return to his father’s house, he realizes that he had to be contrite. Thinking about his act of contrition and what he is going to say in his father’s house, he wonders how he will be received because Jesus mentioned in this parable these words, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.” In verse 20, we learn about the Prodigal son’s reception by his father, which is an important point, because his father receives him with love and respect. Whereby, he never stopped loving him nor did he stop missing him while he was away. In verse 22-24, even after the remorseful son who asked for forgiveness (so to speak), in verse 21, the father does not chastise him, but embraces him upon his return by giving him the family ring, also a robe, and sandals. Hence, each item is symbolic to his family’s identity, but most essential he becomes righteous with God again, because of his confession. In the last remaining verses, Christ speaks of how the older son was upset, because of how the father received his younger brother like a heavenly host. The older son does not understand why his father received his younger brother back which he thought was overkill what he did for him especially killing the fatted calf. Another important point is, even though the older son showed contempt and jealously for his younger brother especially how he squandered his father’s property on loose living, the father’s reply to his older son about this matter was, he (the father) will always be with him (the older son) and everything I have is yours. In the end, and in the closing of verse 32, “For this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and he is found” meaning his spirit was first dead for the love of God, then later he had his own epiphany (or realization) and became alive again with God. His soul was lost, because of the sins he committed, but his soul was found after he was remorseful and repented, hence he came back to the light of God.

Reflection on Gospel

Let’s begin with this reflection by telling you even in today’s world there are many Prodigal sons and daughters as there was then (Christ’s time), even more today, because of the population growth. Furthermore, let me say this, sons and daughters that leave their parents’ home not just for independency, but for establishing their own identity. In this case, this parable of the Prodigal son who ventured on his own became problematic for him such as squandering his father’s property on loose living and eventually trying to find ways to eat in order for him not to starve. Getting back to my point in today’s world, I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this reflection, sons and daughters who leave their parents’ home to be on their own, but return because it is hard and difficult for them to adapt outside from the boundaries of their parents’ house. Even this author who is writing this reflection, my son left our house for a co-op. It was not until recently he said, “there’s no place like home” (exit The Wizard of Oz). But let us get to the heart of this parable, the Prodigal son who left his father’s house became the sinner, the house that he left in essence was God’s house, because any house where God dwells is the house of God (so to speak). The Prodigal son who returned to his father’s house not just for out of desperation, but also he yearned for his father to embrace him with love, and then he wondered how he will be received, in to contrast to his son’s yearning about the prodigal son’s reception with his father, this can be compared to God who is always ready for any lost soul (such as the Prodigal son), whereby He wants that sinner to come back, and that is to come back to the light of God. Consequently, God wants to embrace you (the sinner) with love by celebrating with you on that decision to come home (back to God’s house). Keep in mind this can only happen if you want it to happen. Simply put, you or the sinner has to open your heart and your soul to Him when you do return to the light (God) to be forgiven. This parable should not be taken lightly because we can also think of this parable this way, when we drift away from God, we tend to sin even more. Thus, when this happens, even more we need to ask God to be forgiven as like the Prodigal son when he said to his father, “Father I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” In regard to the older brother who was jealous and bitter towards his father upon his younger brother’s return was also self-righteous as the Pharisee in the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Even though the older son was bitter towards his father, the father loved his older son as much as his younger son by telling him “all that is mine is yours.” In retrospect, we can think of the older son’s bitterness in contrast to if you leave through the front door don’t bother coming back to the back door. This is wrong in God’s eyes, because God wants you to return either through the front or the back door and come back to the light (God) to embrace you with love, because you asked to be forgiven.