Are You Coming Home, I Mean Really Coming Home?

Prodigal_Son.jpg.540xThat’s me, over there in the background, to the right. I’m the “good” son, or daughter, as the case may be. Of course that’s only what I “like” to think of myself.  And I suspect that you probably think of yourself that way too if you really think about it.

We of course love the story of the prodigal son, and we nod wisely as we immediately “get” the lesson–God forgives us and we can always come home to our Father again, and again if need be. The saving of a soul is indeed something to rejoice about.

But we don’t usually think of ourselves as that sinner who squandered so much and came home penniless and humbled, begging to be treated as no better than  a workman on his father’s estate. We don’t see ourselves as being THAT mired in sin.

That is why, when we really think about it, we sympathize with the elder son who stayed home, followed the rules, and was a constant delight to his father. Yet no celebrations are begun for him, no praise comes his way. He feels as we would feel, unnoticed and unappreciated.

Think about it. There is no day when the Church celebrates all us “good” people. We are not honored by feasts and honors for our perfect attendance at mass, or our faithful pledge of money each week.

We think we are pretty darn nice don’t we? And nothing in this story seeks to dispel that notion either. Yet.

Yet the gospel parable of the prodigal son is meant for us. And it takes a lot of prodding and prying for most of us to realize that we have much to ask forgiveness for.

We have been given a most beautiful planet, one filled with riches beyond measure. Yet, we squander than gift every day, with our pollution and our waste. We rip up rain forests and destroy wetlands and coral reefs. And we protest: “I’m not doing that!” But we aren’t doing anything to stop it either.

We have been given the means to construct a world that is just and fair to everyone, one that can feed and house, clothe, educate, protect from disease, every human upon it. Yet we don’t, preferring to live by silly mantras that promote individual initiative which are not really true and result in millions being left out of a place at the table of life. And we protest, “I’m not doing that!” But we allow it to happen as we find ourselves too busy with carpools and basketball games.

We are squandering our birthright as human citizen upon planet Earth. We dirty her air and water and ruin her lands. We hunt her animals to extinction, or push them out of existence by our greed. We disturb the delicate balances that support a full and vibrant co-existence that results in a well-functioning world that supports all of its life.

We in democratic states are offered the means to create a government that is fair for all its citizens, yet we cannot find the time to actually confront those who have made a career of being government and no longer respond to our needs and wishes, but only those who pay them to maintain an unequal distribution of wealth and cater to the needs of the few but exceedingly wealthy.

Our sins put those of the prodigal son to shame. We refuse to internalize the words of Paul, “we implore you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.” We stand afar off and nod at the obvious sinner, secure in our pretense of goodness, when we are the sinners who should be weeping in the arms of our father, begging to be treated as the worst workman in the field.

Are we ready to come home? Are you? Our God awaits us with open arms. It is time we shouldered our responsibilities and do God’s bidding. For surely justice and fairness are the banner He would have us carry.

Are we ready to really come home?



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Mar 10, 2013 @ 17:59:42

    Sherry, you touch a very real nerve here–this idea that if we’re not directly responsible for the world’s problems, we’re not tasked with responsibility to correct them. I understand the older brother’s exasperation. Yet I also find him exasperating. He’s watched his father’s grief mount as his younger brother’s absence grows more prolonged. He’s dealt with the added burdens saddled on the household. He’s looked at the books and seen that his family has suffered irretrievable loss by the father’s assent to cash out the younger son’s inheritance in advance. And yet, here is a chance to rejoice over partial (if not full) restoration of these setbacks, and his first response is, “What about me?” One almost wants recommend a sojourn of self-discovery for him, too, as that would give him a clearer picture of the miracle that’s occurring with the father welcoming the lost son back home.

    Today, our pastor reminded us this story–along with The Lost Sheep and The Long Coin–comes in response to the Pharisees’ outrage that Jesus eats with sinners. They’re meant to remind us that it doesn’t make sense to abandon 99 sheep to find one or tear apart our homes in search of a lost coin or throw an expensive party for someone who’s cost us a small fortune. Nobody would do that, just as nobody seeking to impress people with their religiosity would hang out with sinners. But Jesus says, “God does do that, and I eat with sinners.” And your point is a beautiful extension of that idea. Nobody wants to clean up messes they didn’t make–nobody except God, and Jesus, and if we are true disciples, us.

    You have turned the Gospel’s piercing light straight toward our hearts and we are found wanting.



    • Sherry
      Mar 11, 2013 @ 10:03:30

      Thanks for this comment Tim for you throw light on the upending parables that so confuse people who do think that it makes no sense to leave 99 to search for one, or to up end the house for a coin and then throw a party. Yet of course you point out that God does just that. It is a radical thought indeed. As is (at least to some) that they might be responsible for what they “don’t do”. We live in a world that tries very hard not to assess blame for inaction, but our gospel tells us a quite different story I think. Blessings, my friend, Sherry !END


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