Joshua 5:9,10-12; Ps 34 Taste and see the goodness of the lord; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3,11-32
Luke chapter 15 can be considered the lost and found department of the gospels.
In this small but powerful portion of the gospel we encounter three accounts of that which is lost thetis ultimately found. We have the lost sheep who is sought after by the shepherd who leaves the 99 to locate this poor lowly animal who had lost its way. Much rejoicing is had as Jesus tells us because of the finding of this one.
Then we have the lost coin. The woman tears her house inside out looking for the poor coin that had found its ways hidden and out of sight. Upon discovery, a party is thrown worth more than the coin itself. Again, rejoicing abounds.
Then today we have this story, which is often referred to as the story of the prodigal son, unfortunately. The story is about many things lost. We have the younger son who is lost. We have the older son who is lost. But at the heart of the passage is something more important that is lost and must be found a new, lost and in need of rediscovery.
The identity of the Father is ultimately what is revealed to us in today's passage. The Father stands in the middle and reaches forth embrace both sons. He refuses to build walls but rather becomes the bridge to unite in order to create an opportunity to connect an opportunity for communion not only with himself but with those around him as well.
How often does Jesus invite us to become like little children in the gospel? Many! We are told unless we become like little children we cannot enter the kingdom. To be children means to be dependent on the Father. But more importantly it means to understand our true parentage. To be child means to be the one who sees the Father in action, who witnesses the Father's love, tolerant from the Father so that we might as we mature become like the Father.
Jesus tells us int he gospel He who see me sees the Father. And we know that holiness is Christ being perfected in us as St Paul reminds us, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives with in me." So if Christ is a live in us, and to see Jesus is to see the Father, then to mature it the spirit is to become like the Father.
Both sons have it wrong in regards to what it means to be a son.
The young son think that sonship should entitle him to do whatever he wants to do regardless of the impact has on those who love him. He believes it is license to do as he please, when he please, how he pleases. He wants access to all the Father's material possession but he doesn't want a relationship. Thus, he goes off to the distant land and squanders everything.
Thew older son believes that sonship is about slavery and duty and servanthood. He believes that he has to earn the Father's love by doing this or doing that. He is so focused on his own actions that he also has lost sight of the loving relationship with his Father.
Both are lost. Both have lost a true understanding of the Father and who he is and what he expects and who they are called to be in light of that reality. The Father can be summed up in those words he speaks to the older son, which are a description of his actions to the younger son upon his return, "My son you are here with me always; everything I have is yours."
Everything I have is yours!
This is the identity of the father that has been lost that needs to be rediscovered. The Father is one who gives everything away to us out of love for us. This is what has been lost and is found anew.
As children we must become like the Father.
It is easy to be the one who is forgiven but we must be the one who forgives.
It is easy to relate to the one who has been welcomed back but w must be the one whose heart is opened to the other.
It is easy to relate to the one who receives compassion but we must be the one who offers it.
It is easy to be the one who relates to envy but we must be the one who is generous and rejoices in the good that has ben bestowed to the other.
It is easy to count the cost but we must be the generous distributor of grace and mercy.
As we read the story and ponder the sons and the Father, we should stare int he face of the Father who stares down the road in eager anticipation of the the young son's return. We should in the face of the father who look the older son in the eye and invites him to come and celebrate and rejoice in new life.
We must see the Father in such manner we learn to love like the Father that we become like the Father in our daily lives. This is our true patrimony. This is grace active in our life.