Go home or go where? We get to choose … Sunday, March 10

Return of the prodigal son

Return of the prodigal son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s Gospel reading, Luke 15:1-3 & 11-32, Jesus tells the story about the Prodigal Son. This parable is, to say the least, multifaceted. There’s the young son, the father, the other son, the person the wayward son goes to work for feeding pigs, there’s the feast, the far-a-way country, there’s the squandering of an inheritance, there’s the lack of respect shown the father by the prodigal, there’s the great love of the father, there are the swine … I could keep going but the primary thing here, at least for me, is really none of these. And all of these. The real emphasis here, for me, is that this parable is personal. It pertains, with all its ins and outs and details, to me. I think that taking this parable personally is the only real way to understand it. And that doesn’t just pertain to me. It’s the way it is for everyone. Or it should be.

There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t gone astray, squandered an inheritance, and been disrespectful towards God. It’s just another way, a personal way, of defining sin. What a person does with that definition depends on us and whether or not we decide to return to the Father or stay with the pigs.

Returning to the Father requires that I swallow my pride. Without Him I’m starving. I have nothing of my own to swallow BUT my pride. Oh, I may “feast” on the husks I feed the pigs if I want, I can try to live off things worthless and unclean, but regardless how much of this I partake of I’ll still be starving. Living as a citizen of the world is like that. It doesn’t really have anything to offer. Nothing filling, nothing of honest worth. Returning to the Father means repentance. Swallowing pride is part of that. Another part is to understand my own unworthiness and to beg to be allowed to return. I say “beg” because I’m only a creature and God is under no obligation. At least no obligation He hasn’t placed upon Himself. I have no right to demand anything. I can only plead. I’ve squandered my inheritance via sin and frankly don’t have a leg to stand on. Happily it isn’t about MY ability to stand, it’s about His infinite willingness to love. He IS love personified. And, after having swallowed my pride, after I’ve returned and repented, its time I showed my appreciation and my love for my Father by trying to be obedient and a good child from then on.

Of course I have more than one choice. I can, if I decide to, remain with the pigs. I can wallow in the mire, I can kid myself into believing everything’s OK and that I’m even well off in this condition. And I have companionship. I mean just look at all those swine. And I belong. If I want to. I have free will, choices. I can belong if I want to. It’s up to me.

Where do we want to belong? With the Family we were meant to be a part of? Or in a foreign land with no real friends or family but with plenty of husks and more than enough swine? One way to find out what I really want, which of the two I honestly desire, might be to make a little experiment. First, go to Mass. Go early, set before the Tabernacle and THINK about it all. PRAY too. Second, go some place else. Maybe go to a bar, low-end. A “gun control” bar.  One that checks for firearms at the door and if you don’t have one they’ll issue you one. Trust me, I know these places. Go to see a vulgar movie. One of those that would make you’re grandmother shield her eyes. Watch the people at the bar and in the theater. Watch yourself too, and gauge your honest comfort level. Not to be judgmental because everyone at both these places, and lots of other places, have the very same choices I have. Now I need to be honest with myself. Which do I want to make mine?

If I decide on the foreign country rather than home I need to be content. It’s all I’ll ever have. If I choose to return to the Father’s house, to go home and be with family, I need to be thankful and faithful. And if I DO go home to Father there is one more thing I need to do. Really. I need to let the folks at the bar and the theater know I’ve gone back home and I need to be sure and tell them that the door is always open, in this life, and that we’d all be glad, Father would be happy, to see them walking up to the house. Its their place too.



  1. “Happily it is not about my ability to stand, it’s about His infinite willingness to love.” Loved it!!!! No matter what we do, God is so willing to love us. We need to bask in that love daily. Wonderful post and God Bless, SR

    • Thank you. It took me a long time to figure out Proverbs 24:16, and I’m sure I haven’t plumbed the depths yet, but sometimes even just a little light works wonders. 🙂

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