We couldn’t end the year of mercy in a better way!
Have you ever stop to think what does the word “Prodigal” mean?
Well I decided to look up the meaning of the word prodigal in the internet and it says:
- Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully.
- There is a saying “prodigal habits die hard”
- Having or giving something on a lavish scale.
This is VERY interesting! It’s like the saying “Like father, like son!” I would like us to keep our attention focus on the Father. And knowing the meaning of the word “Prodigal” I would like to change the title to the Prodigal Father of Mercy! For what he will do is beyond limits! It does beyond the imagination of human beings! The father will be lavishing his mercy in a sense “wastefully” over his son that never deserved it! The son is “prodigal” in wasting his life, his possession to the worldly pleasure and the father is “prodigal” in wasting his mercy upon his sons.
The story begins with the amazing request of the youngest son! He will ask for his share of inheritance!!! AMAZING! Usually we ask or take possession of an inheritance only after the death of someone. At least that would be the logic of it!
When someone asks for the inheritance before the death of someone it would almost be as if he was saying “I no longer want to be your son, I want to be free to go and do whatever I please, the way I want, with the people I chose. In other words I don’t want you to have any say over my decisions.” Notice the “I’s” he is totally focus on oneself.
What does the father do? Any earthly father would probably say. “What? Are you joking, not until I am dead!” Can you imagine the pain that the Father felt hearing these words? Imagine your daughter or son asking you such a thing! It would torn your heart into pieces! That’s what happened to the Fathers heart! Nevertheless the father agrees to give him his share and live the life he had chosen. He does not even lecture him. This is where we see the extreme beauty of God’s mercy towards us human beings. Because of God’s infinite mercy He decided to give us the most precious gift that no one else created has. Do you know what that is?
Its called freedom!
He allows us to decide for ourselves to love or to hate, to give or to take, to judge or being nonjudgmental, weather we accept Him or not, weather we say yes to Him or not. And when we say NO, He patiently waits until we realize that He is the only way, the truth and life.
Now you might think if God gives us freedom then why does He give us the 10 commandments? Good question and besides they seem so negative! Most of them starts with “Thy shalt not… thy shalt not….”
But let me give you a comparison:
In order that a city might function properly what does it need? Laws and regulations?! Otherwise we will put our lives and the lives of others in danger. It would be a chaos! Since we live in the time of great technology you can search and will find that there are many countries in this world that has cities with no regulations! And it seems to even work! Well try it out for a few weeks and then tell me how you feel! The stress of keeping yourself and the other alive is so great that you are psychologically always on the highest level of stress!
Because of original sin we have inclination to do evil, so it is only through His mercy that God gave us rules to follow if we want to be happy and stay aliveJ! Jesus made it very clear “Blessed are those who hear God’s word and put them into practice!” Do you remember how the chosen people of God would behave before they receive the 10 commandments! They had lost their true meaning and purpose of life.
Once the youngest son receives all the money he loses control, unfortunately it does not take very long for him to spend everything he had. Once he has nothing left he goes out to work in the fields (something that he never had to do at home.)
At this point he will go through a process of which we can call purification or grace, coming face to face with the truth of oneself of one’s true meaning of life, of the existence of spiritual life (eternity).
In the CCC it says: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man in created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for…we are created to know, love and to imitate the Father!”
Once the son reached the point of despair and is unable to see other possibilities, God usually always finds a way to send a last ray of light, a new chance, a last recourse to come out of it. He is a father and will never abandon his children.
I went to change the oil of the van and the guy that changed it wanted to share God’s work in his life! He is very young, married and have children. However one of his child is very ill and he needs to be in treatments, he is waiting for surgery because it’s too expensive, he can’t afford it yet. He had almost reached despair when suddenly out of nowhere someone that didn’t even know his citation just came to him and gave him money. He was just praising God for never abandoning him.
So the younger son, by Gods graces, remembers that he had a father and the life of his father employers are in better situation than his! His thoughts were not to go back to his father’s house as a son but as an employer. His intentions were not totally pure but God’s graces were abundant!
Coming back to the father’s house is where he will experience the total mercy of the father. First we see the father running! Then he does not even allow the son to finish his speech that he embraces him, then orders the servants to bring the best robe, no doubt one of his own (a sign of dignity and honor, proof of the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family), a ring for the son’s hand (a sign of authority and sonship) and sandals for his feet (a sign of not being a servant, as servants did not wear shoes—or, for that matter, rings or expensive clothing, vs.22).
All these things represent what we receive in Christ upon salvation: the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), the privilege of partaking of the Spirit of adoption (Ephesians 1:5), and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, prepared to walk in the ways of holiness (Ephesians 6:15). A fattened calf is prepared, and a party is held (notice that blood was shed = atonement for sin, Hebrews 9:22). Fatted calves in those times were saved for special occasions such as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). This was not just any party; it was a rare and complete celebration. Had the boy been dealt with according to the Law, there would have been a funeral, not a celebration.
The first thing that would come to our mind “why the father didn’t punished his son?” Again he never lectured his son, he does not ask questions, he never swears at him instead he gives him back everything he didn’t deserve!
“The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has Mercy on his children, so the Lord has mercy on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13). Instead of condemnation, there is rejoicing for a son who had been dead but now is alive, who once was lost but now is found (Romans 8:1; John 5:24).
Note the parallel between “dead” and “alive” and “lost” and “found”—terms that also apply to one’s state before and after conversion to Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). This is a picture of what occurs in heaven over one repentant sinner (Luke 15: 7, 10). He had been transformed from a state of destitution to complete restoration. That is what God’s grace does for a penitent sinner (Psalm 40:2; 103:4). Not only are we forgiven, but we receive a spirit of sonship as His children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, of His incomparable riches (Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:18-19).
This is what we call mercy!
Considering everything that the son had already went through he had already paid for his punishment!
Everyone was created for a very important reason! And God has a special plan for each one of us individually. Nevertheless, God’s mercy is so great that even if we do not respond to His initial plans He will create a new one for us!
After looking so closely to the Father and how much He loves and has mercy on us, I would like to ask “How can you not want to love the father? How can you not want to give your life, your heart, your time to the Father? Think about it! Life is too short! I hope we will all be able to say together with St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!” (2Tim 4:7)”
Sr. Emily Lepage ZSJM
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