Archive for the ‘Prodigal Son’ Category

How God The Father Loves His Son

June 16, 2014

How does the Eternal Father love Jesus Christ his Son?
The Scriptures provide us insights into their relationship.


The Father gives his Son instruction and example

God the Father BlessingAs Jesus once said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will also do,” adding, “I cannot do anything on my own.” The Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he does. Sometimes believers find it harder to relate to God the Father than Christ the Son. But what is the Father really like? He is just like his Son. Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.” As Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  The Father offers his Son the perfect example, and his Son perfectly follows him.

The Father listens to his Son

Outside the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me…” Jesus shares his own attitude toward prayer when he tells us, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: Our Father…” Jesus knows that wordy, poetic prayers are not necessary because his Father is always listening.

The Father encourages his Son

At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, the Father declared from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And on the summit of Mt. Tabor, at Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Father spoke from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” The Father encourages his Son with reminders of his love.

The Father provides for his Son

Jesus said, “Everything that the Father has is mine.” Jesus’ Father is like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son who told his first-born, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.” Confident in his Father’s providence, Jesus tells us to be likewise unafraid concerning our basic needs, what we are to eat and drink, or what we are to wear: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” The Father also provides his Son with gifts greater than material things. At the Last Supper, Jesus said of disciples, “Father, they are your gift to me.”

The Father welcomes closeness with his Son

It was a big deal when Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father.” As St. John Paul the Great observed, “An Israelite would not have used ["Abba" to address God] even in prayer. Only one who regarded himself as Son of God in the proper sense of the word could have spoken thus of him and to him as Father–Abba, or my Father, Daddy, Papa!” Because the Father welcomes intimate closeness with his Son, Jesus can say, “I and the Father are one.”

The Father loves his Son’s mother

At the Visitation, filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth declared to Mary, “Most blessed are you among women,” and Mary rejoiced, “From this day all generations will call me blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” By pouring his love and blessings into Mary, God the Father gave his Son a loving mother full of grace.

The Father fosters growth in his Son and sends him on mission

The Letter to the Hebrews says, “Son though he was, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” But this raises a question: how can the divine Son grow in any way? Though perfect in heaven, the Son of God had no firsthand experience of weakness, suffering, or the trials of obedience, until his Incarnation. Through these things he was made complete so that he could be the savior of humanity. The Father prepares his Son and sends him on a mission to transform the world. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

The Father as our model for Fatherhood

Whether we are biological or spiritual fathers, Jesus’ heavenly Father gives men a model for our fatherhood. We are to give our children instruction and good example. We should listen to them and encourage them, letting them know that they are well-beloved. We should provide for our children, according to our abilities, supplying their basic needs without neglecting the greater gifts. We are to welcome closeness with our children. We are to love our children by loving their mother, whether she be our spouse or the Church. We are to foster maturity and virtue in them so that they may go forth in mission to transform the world.  Which aspect of your fatherhood are you resolved to grow in with God the Father?

God the Father in the Creation of Man by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Vatican.Our Perfect Father

Some of us have had very good fathers, while some of our fathers were very far from perfect. But regardless of the quality of our earthly fathers, we all have a heavenly Father who loves us perfectly. As Jesus tells us, “the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me…” Our Father instructs us and shows us his example through his Word. He always listens, and we should not be surprised when he encourages us, speaking to us, in prayer. Our Father provides for our material needs and gives us the greater gifts. “For everyone who asks, receives…” Our Father welcomes intimacy with us, giving his children the spirit of his Son so that we too may cry, “Abba, Father!”  And he gives us Mary, the same perfectly loving mother he provided for his Son. Our Father would grow and mature us into greatness, into saints, into the likeness of his Son, and send us on mission for the transformation of the world.

Praying For Rain — February 10 — St. Scholastica

February 10, 2014

While some people only pray when they need or want something, others pray frequently but hesitate to ask anything for themselves. Like the Prodigal Son’s older brother, these think it more proper to never ask God for special gifts (not “even a young goat to feast on with” their friends.) However, the Office of Readings selection for St. Scholastica written by St. Pope Gregory the Great shows us that God is pleased to give His children the good gifts they request:

Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate. One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.

Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.” When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more. Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself. Their minds had always been united in God; their bodies were to share a common grave.

The Other Son — 4th Sunday of Lent—Year C

March 11, 2013

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells one of his most famous parables. Usually, people focus on the younger son who ran away and on the loving father who forgives him when he returns. Jesus uses this father and son to teach us an important lesson. Even though we are like that selfish, ungrateful, and sinful younger brother sometimes, our Father never stops longing to embrace us. No one should ever say, “God could never forgive me after all the bad things I’ve done.” God’s merciful forgiveness always awaits us if we are willing to return to him.

This is an important lesson, but we should not overlook the brother who felt overlooked. We can learn something important through the older brother’s experience, too. While the younger son ran away, the older son loyally remained with their father. While the younger brother was having sinful fun with prostitutes at night, the older brother was working long days in the fields together with the slaves. While the younger son became unhappy in the distant country, the older son was unhappy at home.

We see the discontent of the older son when he says to his father, “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!” The older son doubts that his father really loves him. The older brother is close to the father physically but far away emotionally. Does his father love him? Of course! The father would have been happy to throw him a party, but his son never asks. The older son squnders his opportunity. He never receives because he never asks and so becomes bitter toward his father.

We can be like this older brother sometimes. We do our dutiful work for God and never ask for anything because we think it is better to never ask for anything. But, this can lead to bitter feelings toward God. God our Father wants to bless his children with good things so that our joy, faith, and love will increase. We should not be afraid to ask him. As Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive.” Learn a lesson from the older brother who never asked for anything. Ask for good things from God because he is your loving and merciful Father.

En el evangelio de hoy, Jesús le dice uno de sus parábolas más famosas. Por lo general, la gente se centra en el hijo menor que se fue y en el padre amoroso que lo perdona. Jesús usa este padre e hijo para enseñarnos una lección importante. Somos como el hermano menor a veces (egoístas, ingratos y pecadores) pero nuestro Padre siempre anhela para abrazarnos. Nadie debe decir: “Dios nunca podría perdonarme después de todas las cosas malas que he hecho.” El perdón misericordioso de Dios siempre nos espera, si estamos dispuestos a volver con él.

Esta es una lección importante, pero no debemos pasar por alto el hermano que sentía por alto. También podemos aprender algo importante a través de la experiencia del hermano mayor. Mientras que el hijo menor se fue lejos, el hijo mayor lealmente se mantuvo con su padre. Mientras que el hermano menor pecaminosamente se divirtieron con prostitutas por la noche, el hermano mayor estaba trabajando largos días en los campos junto con los sirvientes. Mientras que el hijo menor se convirtió en descontento en el país lejano, el hijo mayor estaba infeliz en la casa de su padre.

Vemos el descontento del hijo mayor cuando dice a su padre: “¡Hace tanto tiempo que te sirvo, sin desobedecer jamás una orden tuya, y tú no me has dado nunca ni un cabrito para comérmelo con mis amigos!” El hijo mayor duda de su padre realmente lo ama. El hijo mayor está cerca del padre físicamente, sino emocionalmente lejos.  ¿El padre lo ama? ¡Por supuesto!  El padre habría estado muy contento de darle una fiesta, pero su hijo nunca pregunta.  El hijo mayor no recibe nunca, porque el hijo nunca se pregunta, y así se convierte en resentimiento hacia su padre.

Podemos ser como el hermano mayor a veces. Hacemos nuestro trabajo obediente a Dios y nunca pedir nada porque pensamos que es mejor no pedir nada. Sin embargo, esto puede conducir a sentimientos de amargura hacia Dios. Dios, nuestro Padre quiere bendecir a sus hijos con cosas buenas para que nuestra alegría, nuestra fe y nuestro toda amor se incrementará.  No debemos tener miedo de preguntarle.  Como dice Jesús: “Pedid, y se os dará”.  Aprende una lección del hermano mayor que nunca pidió nada.  Pregunte por las cosas buenas de Dios porque él es tu Padre amoroso y misericordioso.

Investments & Debts — 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

September 19, 2010

Last week we heard Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal (or squandering) Son. Today He tells us about a debt-canceling steward. These stories offer similar lessons: the first lesson is about how to use our wealth profitably.

The prodigal son wastes his wealth on himself, on a life of self-indulgence, and he finds himself poor and alone. But hisgood father uses his wealth to generously cloth and feed him, and he thereby restores their relationship. Today’s steward gets reported for squandering the master’s property and is soon to be sent away destitute. But the prudent steward finds a way to always have a place to stay. He forgives others’ their debts and thereby wins their friendship. The first lesson is that we will lose whatever we hoard for ourselves, but whatever we invest in love will have an everlasting return.

The reason we exist, the reason we were created, is for personal relationships with God and each other. And when we die, we will take nothing with us, except these relationships. Our computers, cars and credit cards will be left behind, but personal love remains with us. A $100 bottle of wine can be enjoyed for an evening, but then it is lost forever. A donation to Catholic Relief Services can save a life, and a donation to Relevant Radio can save a soul, and someday, when all of our investments in love for family, neighbors and strangers are revealed, they will give us everlasting joy forever. So “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
 
The second lesson of these parables is the importance of forgiveness. The good father wins back his dead and lost son, because he is willing to forgive him. The older son, however, is unwilling to forgive. He refuses to enter the house of his father and will not join the feast until his heart is changed. The good father symbolizes God, and the house is Heaven, and unless we forgive everyone one from the heart, we will refuse to join the feast. The second parable is also symbolic. God is the rich man and we are the squandering steward. Consider how much He has given you and how fruitlessly you have used it. At the end of our lives we will be called to give an account of our stewardship, and who can stand that judgment? This is what we must do: we must forgive our debtors their debts by forgiving their sins against us.

A sin forms a debt because it takes away from others what is owed to them by right. Every sin makes a debt, first and foremost to God, but also to the people trespassed against. It is speculated that the steward in the parable was forgiving his master’s debtors the part which was his own commission. If we are prudent like him, we will quickly take the opportunity to forgive our debtors the debt owed to us by forgiving the sins they have sinned against us. For we have it on Jesus’ word, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
 
Now a lot of people refuse to forgive, or think that they can’t, because they think forgiveness means something its not. To forgive another’s sin is not to say that what they did wasn’t wrong—that would be a lie. And forgiveness doesn’t mean convincing yourself that the wrong doesn’t hurt—Jesus forgave his enemies amid excruciating pain. To forgive, all you need to do is to will the good of your trespasser. If you can pray for them, you are forgiving them. On the other hand, if there is anyone that you find that you are unable to pray for, then you have not forgiven them. That is the person whom you must pray for, for your own sake as well as theirs. So let your “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone… This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”

Jesus’ parables teach us this: to use our wealth for lasting profit, and to forgive our debtors their debts. Let us be prudent to obtain true riches on earth and a everlasting home in Heaven.

The Prodigal Son — 4th Sunday in Lent—Year C

March 14, 2010

If today happens to be your first time coming back to church in a long time, then take today’s gospel as a sign. God our Father is incredibly merciful and He welcomes you home with a loving embrace.

But most of us here, I suspect, came to Mass last week, and the week before that, because you always come every week. If so, then you probably hear this familiar parable of the Prodigal (that is, squandering) Son and wonder where you fit into the story. When you look at yourself I bet you can honestly say that you’re not living a life of great dissipation like the younger son, and the idea of a sinner being reconciled with God makes you genuinely happy, not bitter, like the older son or the Pharisees. So what does this story have to teach those of us who are doing a lot more right than we’re doing wrong?

First, let’s look at the younger, prodigal son. He goes to his father and says, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” Here, he is asking for his inheritance while his father is still alive. He is basically saying, “I don’t want to share my life with you,” and then he demonstrates it a few days later by setting off to a distant country. There he squanders his inheritance on a life of dissipation, but after he has freely spent everything, he finds himself in dire need. What he thought would make him happy left him disappointed in the end.

Sure, we’re not professional, all-star sinners like the prodigal son, but we act like him in many little ways in our daily lives. The prodigal son asked his father for something which was not his and which he had no right to take (while his father is still alive.) Whenever we live as if our lives were our own, as if our lives did not come from God and do not belong to God, our Father, we say to Him, “I don’t want to share my life with you.”

Though our small and venial sins only hinder or wound our relationship with God, in every sin we turn our backs and set off for awhile to a distant country. Whenever we insist upon it, God permits us to freely spend our lives in squandering ways, in ways which we think will make us happy but which disappointing us in the end. When we return to our Father, He forgives our sins and welcomes us back, but you and I must learn to stop trying to live our lives without sharing them completely with God.

Why are we afraid of the idea of doing what God wants us to do every moment of our day? I think we are afraid that doing God’s will won’t really make us happy. Maybe we imagine that doing God’s will means we will have to pray ten hours a day at church or walk around wearing a burlap outfit. Of course that’s crazy. God probably wants you to live the same life you are living now, but with some minor adjustments, and more closely to Him.

Maybe we are afraid to give ourselves completely to God because we are a lot like the other, older, more faithful son in the parable. We have served our Father for years without ever asking or expecting much for ourselves. But working hard for God without ever experiencing His good gifts and joys does not make us holy; over time it makes us angry and embittered, like the older son who never asked for anything. We start to think of our Father, not as our father, but as a slave master. But our Father says to us today, “My child, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” as our psalm said. Do not let your face blush with shame at asking for good things for you and your friends to enjoy. When we are poor and call out the Lord hears us, and He will save us from all our distress. So look to God, and be radiant with joy.

We’ve learned important lessons from both of the sons in this parable, and I hope we will put them into practice.

From the faithful but disgruntled son, we learned the importance of asking for good things from God. So today, at this Mass, ask our Father to surprise you today with some good gift that you’ll enjoy. Then watch to see what He does for you.

From the prodigal son we learned the importance of living with and for God every day of our lives. So tomorrow morning, when you wake up and you’re lying in bed, make the sign of the cross and entrust yourself to God for that day, that you may live your life that day always with Him and for Him. Ask you guardian angel to remind you and I bet you will remember.  Try it, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the difference it makes in your day.

Asking and Receiving — Friday, 4th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

February 5, 2010

King Herod said to his daughter, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” If Herod, who was wicked, could be moved to give his daughter gifts, how much more will our heavenly Father give us good things if we ask Him. Praying for good things is something Jesus commands us to do.

While many Christians fall into the mistake of only praying when they want something from God, there are other Christians, who pray every day, who make an opposite mistake. These Christians pray for good things for others, but they never ask anything for themselves, fearing that this would be a selfish prayer. But the danger in this, in never requesting and never expecting God’s gifts and consolations, is that we’ll become discouraged and gradually embittered.

If we never ask for a share in the Father’s gifts we risk becoming like the older brother in Luke’s parable of the prodigal son. Eventually we’ll say to God, “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never even gave me something to feast on with my friends.” But our generous and forgiving Father would say to us, “My child, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours for the asking.”

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” So ask God to give you gifts—this is not a selfish prayer, for it will strengthen you in holiness and glorify God. I suggest that you try out a little experiment. Pray, “Lord, please treat me to something special today,” and then watch for his gift to come.


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