“’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 distance country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.” Lk. 15:11-13.
The Gospel of this Fourth Sunday of Lent presents us with the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
A few days ago I saw a news broadcast on the television about the disappearance of a young man from his house. It is very frequent to find these cases about young men and women who leave their homes thinking that they are going to feel free, but sometimes not knowing the “real world” and its very violent environments filled with drugs their dreams turn out very badly. It is also noteworthy to mention the suffering of the parents. It breaks your heart to see a father or a mother crying in pain asking for their child to return home. There are sometimes many questions asked when these children runaway. For example, was their communication between the parents and their children? Did the parents dedicate time to their children? Did the parents have two and three jobs to survive and their stressful lives prevented them from sharing time with their children? We sometimes give our children many things, but we fail to give them the warmth and love that only can be found at home.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus, the Son of God, presents us with a similar situation from thousand of years ago with the difference being that as this young man “was bottoming out” he recognized what he did and he recognized his situation.
It is interesting that the Lord puts as an example that he ended up “looking after pigs”, which was a situation that made him impure with the people of Israel – something utterly rejected by the Israelites. Yet, today these can be drugs, pornography, juvenile prostitution that is happening in our society by groups that sometimes act impurely.
However, the sinful life of that rich young man was brightened by the presence of that loving Father that had never abandoned him. “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.” Lk. 15:20. That is the Father that awaits us in the Sacrament of Confession in this Year of Mercy. A Year of grace from a God that has the tenderness of a Father, but that also invites us to reflect on what image of God I have that does not allow me to be merciful and take, as Pope Francis says, “a word or gesture of consolation to the poor and to family and friends.
I leave you with this phrase from the second letter: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:19.