Posted by: Fr Chris | January 27, 2013

Prodigal Son Sunday

Today is the second preparation Sunday. Last week we heard about humility, this week we hear about God’s great mercy. A prodigal person is one who squanders what he has and the younger son certainly did that! But he is shocked to discover that his father has still been waiting for him, with great love. This is true of God – His mercy endures forever!

In this powerful icon from Tatiana Grant, the father who embraces the returning sinful son is revealed as being God, through the depiction of the Three Angels.  This is how God acts, Jesus tells us. He waits for our return from our foolishness, He waits and rushes forward, swooping  us into His arms, gathering us up as the hen protects her brood of chicks under her wings, as the exuberant new father scoops us his new baby to hold the baby close to his heart – so too does God for each soul! 

Commentary From Archimandrite Ephrem:

As familiar, perhaps as the “Prodigal Son” – to the extent that there are people who

think “prodigal” means something to do with being a long lost son whose return is welcome! Interesting that he is a wastrel, a spendthrift, a young man who marches off into the world with his half of the inheritance from his father in his pocket or in his bank account, and then is heard no more of until he is reduced to the rock bottom of his existence, and has nowhere to turn …. nowhere save home.

He becomes the true model of repentance. metanoia , the mind-shift, conversion the reversal, teshuvah, the turning, the return. Jewish tradition and Eastern Orthodox tradition coincide in seeing the turning as a whole lifetime’s work. We say of a holy monk who has died  “He truly repented!”

And where does the journey home start? In the desolation I have made of my own life:

the place where I find myself, empty-handed, impoverished, my talents squandered, my opportunities lost… and home long forgotten. And in that moment of painful self-discovery I also discover what home is, what it is to have parents to turn to.

No doubt the road from home to Desolation Comer was littered with little acts of repentance, moments of self-accusation, flickering good intentions, hours of remorse (washed down with the sweet wines of oblivion…) But only with nowhere else to turn does the wastrel set out for home. Repentance is his last resort – and still his father kills the fatted calf to welcome him, sets a ring on his finger, organizes a feast, glows with joy until the solid, reliable, sensible brother who has stayed at home working at his father’s side protests … and his protest is just… but his father’s response pours from his heart “My son was dead and he is alive!” Justice and fairness are lost in grace and joy. And all the wastrel did was go home…

From Fr Chris:

Let us make a point this week of:

a. going home to the waiting Father Who loves us;

b. praying for others to do the same;

c. rejoicing in the return of sinners;

d. asking myself do I love with abundance as God does?


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