Gospel Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them Jesus addressed this parable. "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."' So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'"
“'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.”
I consider myself fortunate to have been raised by Catholic parents in a stable environment. We did not always get things we wanted, but always had things we needed. I was taught as a youngster it is rude to ask for things. It is better to wait until it is given to you. It seems the younger son in the parable asked for something he expected to get eventually. He was young, unwise and inexperienced, and therefore spent his fortune foolishly. He was in over his head and found himself in a desperate situation. He had come to the end of the road as they say.
I see our heavenly father providing for us just as the father in this story provided everything his sons needed and not necessarily what they wanted. He brought up his sons to work honestly toward their inheritance fully aware they would have a bright future, which for us is our heavenly home. Are we living as the older son diligently working towards the kingdom of heaven, or as the younger son living for this world destined to hit rock bottom?
Sometimes we ask for things from our heavenly father before we are ready to receive it to use for the glory of God. As we seemingly wait and sacrifice for unanswered prayers, maybe God, in his wisdom, sees we are not ready to receive the gift and won’t able to use it wisely. Our God must wait until the right time or the gift will do us more harm than good, just as the younger son experienced.
As we continue to pray and sacrifice during Lent, may we keep our sight on the kingdom of heaven and not stray to the ways of this world. Let us pray for our priests to keep their hearts focused on their heavenly inheritance and to shepherd the poor and the lost to their inheritance.