Jesus said, “We must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
I can honestly say that I am brought to the point of tears every single time I read the parable of the Prodigal Son (also known as the parable of the Lost Son or Forgiving Father). It happened just this morning while I was celebrating Mass, and I know it wasn’t because the reading was long and I was tired! The reason is because it is a powerful and meaningful reminder of my life.
A Father had two sons. Do I realize that I owe my life, my very existence, to The Father? And yet, even with such an amazing gift, I can still choose to live my life with or without Him; in peace or in rebellion! The Father has invited me to live under his roof; to breathe, sing, live and move in His presence. But to live with God means to obey his commandments; and depending on my attitude, I could be in Heaven, but feel like it was Hell!
The young son collected his belongings and moved out. How long can one endure “Hell”? How long can one complain at home about everything and everyone? Well, the moment has arrived. A few days later, the youngest son collects all his belongings and moves out. He says, “Enough is enough! I’m moving out! ...I’m moving out and moving in with my boyfriend (or girlfriend)…I’m moving away, far away, for College!
Our children believe more in what their friends, their music lyrics, their dreams, and their coaches tell them, than in the people who love them the most. Reality will set the record straight. A lot of senior girls and boys are just itching to move out of their homes. And most of them think that life is about to get much better. All I can say to that is what has been said before: We don’t know what we have until it is gone. How true. Our naïve child in this story thinks he has been living in Hell. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is about to walk right straight into it.
A severe famine struck. Call it whatever you want: “a severe famine”, “a tsunami”, “the perfect storm”. But whatever you call it, don’t forget to add: “when it rains, it pours.” The problem with life is not one problem. The problem with life is that one problem quickly leads to many others. Money runs out; friends run away; my health is going, my strength is gone. Soon enough, our young exile finds himself truly in exile: alone. Unfortunately, at this point, some people crash and burn. But not this time! This child will be saved by a memory that becomes a turning point (a conversion) in his life. “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 you son; treat me as you would treat one of young hired workers.’”
Amazing…absolutely amazing! Although this young man lived with his Father for years, he didn’t know Him. Although we went to Catholic School all our lives, we still didn’t really know Him. Why? Because we ignored Him! Moms and dads: Although your children live with you for almost eighteen years of their lives, do you know them? Do they know you?
While still a long way off. This young man’s remorse quickly leads to his confession, which immediately leads to his Father’s forgiveness and blessing. “While still a long way off, his father ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” Let the celebration begin!
We all love a good conversion story. What many of us don’t realize is that our life is a daily conversion story.
Let us stop here for now. Let us reflect on God’s word in a deeper, more meaningful and personal way. This is DAY 1 of this young man’s conversion. There will be many more days and there will be many more falls in the life of our young convert. But for the Lord, what is important is not so much the number of falls but that his son knows that there are graces to be given, blessings to be had, and love to be shared; that there will always be a place for him in His Father’s mansion.
“For now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found.”