Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections on Today's Gospel

Today's Gospel was the Good Shepherd and The Prodigal Son. James and I have spoken at length about the parable of the prodigal son after it was used in Cecilia's sacramental prep for her First Reconciliation. James always says it is really more the parable of the righteous brother or unforgiving brother. After all, the parable is told to those who deemed themselves righteous and were scandalized that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes.

I found it interesting to see the two parables side by side. The Good Shepherd says that all of Heaven rejoices more over one penitent than over 100 righteous. The brother who remained at home points to the apparent unfairness of this. I think the point of the Prodigal Son is not so much that our Heavenly Father forgives us but rather that, as we have all been that prodigal son, none of us can be the "righteous" son. The brother who stayed with his father was just as much a prodigal son as his brother except, rather than physically leaving and seeking pleasure, he remained physically but was so distant from his father as to be insecure of his relationship to his father. He kept a mental tally of all the good things he did and all the ways he felt he deserved more. "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." His relationship to his father is reduced to obedience of orders and his qualm is lack of rewards. This brother had no closer a relationship with his father than the one who left. Monsignor said it should be called the Parable of the Forgiving Father, but I think it should be called The Prodigal Sons.

Both the sons are prodigal sons. We are all prodigal sons and daughters for the one who is truly righteous would only rejoice at the return of anyone to God. To not rejoice at the return of a lost sheep is to be lost sheep ourselves.

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