Some thoughts on today’s Gospel of the Prodigal Son:
The Gospel is overly familiar. We know it so well that we tend to tune it out when it’s opening lines dawn on our ears. But this is a signal to listen with the heart. To focus on a detail or two we may have ignored before. Focus perhaps on what SEEMS to be a side point, or off the main lines of consideration. Jesus was a master story-teller and every detail is dripping with meaning. I propose to you two such issues. You may or may not have considered them before, but in case not, consider them now….
1. The Goal in life – The Father comes out and begs his second son to enter the party. The second Son who was obedient to his father but distant from him lets loose with an angry catalogue of grievances. Those grievances finish with these words: You never even gave me a kid goat to celebrate with my friends! But when this son of yours returns who went through your property with prostitutes, you kill the fatted calf for him.” Now behold the goal of his life is to celebrate with his friends. This is sad, for the goal in life is not to celebrate with your friends. The goal in life is to celebrate with the Father! See how messed up we can become. We often demand things on our own terms and create our own notions of what heaven should be. Some will talk of mansions, some talk of clouds and harps, some talk of reunion with loved ones, some talk of streets paved in gold, and so on. But the heart of heaven is to be with God, to rejoice with him and to praise him. Our reunions will be precious but not as precious as being with and seeing God. The son has defined a very small heaven for himself: “celebrating with his friends.” The Father has something far better for the son but the son allows the good to be the enemy of the best. And by insisting on what is merely good he may well miss what is best. What do youwant? Do you wnat merely to “celebrate with your friends” or to celebrate with the Father? What a joy heaven will be as we consider the indescribable glory of God and praise him forever caught up in his joy and serenity in a hymn of endless praise. This first video sets forth the theme of God’s indescribable glory:
2. The parable is unfinished– What does the son finally decide? Do he reconsider and enter the feast or does he stay outside and refuse the Father’s pleading that he enter? It really is an amazing portrait isn’t it? The Father outside, pleading for his son to enter. An old song by Don Franciso puts it this way: The Father’s voice is calling with an urgency I’ve never heard before “Won’t you come in from the darkness now before it’s time to finally close the door?!” The parable is unfinished because you and I have to h finish it with our repsonse. And not just you, but your spouse, child, grandchild, brother, sister, co-worker. For them we are to be the Father’s voice pleading with them to enter the feast before the door closes. Yes, it is we who must finish this parable. Here is a video of Don Francisco’s song that I just mentioned. I have posted it before but it seems so appropriate here: