Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today continues the discourse that Jesus began in the first verses of chapter 15 of the Gospel according to St. Luke. A few weeks ago, we heard of the parable of the lost sheep.
"What man of you, having one hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and goes after the one that was lost, until he finds her?"
And the parable of the coin: "Or what woman who has ten drachmas, if she loses a drachma, does not light the lamp, and sweeps the house, and searches diligently until she finds it?"
The theme is God's desire to save all the lost, for all to be saved.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the Lord elaborates on this subject. This parable must touch the heart of every father and mother in Venezuela today. Amid our national crisis, the most intense pain for parents is separation from the family. When children leave for Colombia, Peru or Ecuador, parents pray for their welfare every day. Because every day we hear of bad things that happen with Venezuelans abroad. Many have died on the trip; young women have fallen into prostitution or slavery. Although some have found opportunities for a new life, it is less that theit expectations of a better quality of life. I remember on our trip to Peru, a taxi driver told us, "I am a Venezuelan." So, I asked what he did in Venezuela and he replied, "I was an insurance broker." There are cases of lawyers or doctors working as cooks or innkeepers, perhaps at McDonald’s.
The father in this parable is God. Therefore, we must understand that Almighty God understands the pain in the hearts of Venezuelan parents. God the Almighty Father sent His only Son into this world to suffer and die in our places on the cross. But, also the heart of the Father is saddened when His human children move away from Him and the house of God because of rebellion, like this prodigal son.
"A man had two children and the youngest of them said to his father: Father, give me the part of the property that belongs to me. And he distributed their goods to them." In this case it was not a crisis in the country. Not because of hunger did the son want to leave his father's house. He was tired of his father's discipline and thought that in a remote province he could find the freedom he wanted. What disrespect to his father! However, the father loved his son, divided his property and said goodbye.
And what irony! Far away, the son found hunger. "And when he had wasted everything, a great famine came in that province, and he began to lack. And he went and approached one of the citizens of that land, who sent him to his ranch to feed pigs. And he wanted to fill his belly of the carob beans that the pigs ate, but nobody gave him any. " Like many Venezuelans abroad, he did not find the job and quality of life he wanted. For the Jews the pigs were disgusting and impure, but the son envied the pigs their food.
At that moment, he thought of his father's house. “How many day laborers in my father's house have an abundance of bread, and here I am starving! I will rise and go to my father, and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy of being called your son; make me like one of your day laborers. "
This is true repentance, when the sinner wants nothing more from his rebellious life. Always in the beginning this life seems very pleasant. Many pleasures, no rules, parties, freedom. But, at the hour of trial, the children of God think of their Father's house. God in his wisdom allows His children their season to live apart from Him. He also allows them to experience the consequences of their rebellion, hopefully save the last consequence of sin, eternal death.
So, the prodigal son returned to his father's house. And what happened? “And when he was still far away, his father saw him, and was moved to mercy; and ran, and lay on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and against you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. But the father said to his servants: Bring the best garment, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill him, and let's eat and have a party; because this was my dead son, and he has revived; He was lost, and is found. And they began to rejoice."
God has his Law; His will for us to live like his children. But as a father, His discipline is for our well-being. God does not want to lose any of Jis children, but wants every one back home. Therefore, when the prodigal son recognized and confessed his sins, the father forgave him everything. He said, “You are my son; welcome home”.
There was another son with another attitude. "And his eldest son was in the field; when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing; and calling one of the servants, he asked him what that was. And he said: Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, for having received him safe and sound. Then he became angry, and did not want to enter. His father therefore went out and begged him to come in. But he, responding, told his father : Behold, for so many years I have served you, having never disobeyed your commandment, and you have never given me a kid to enjoy with my friends, but when this one came, your son, who has consumed your goods with harlots, has killed for him the fatted calf. "
The eldest son is he who has not shown his rebellion openly. He has always obeyed his father's will in outward acts. But, not for the love of his father and his brother. He thought he deserved something from his father, more than his brother. The Father himself told him that is not the way of thinking or living.
"He then said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. But it was necessary to have a party and enjoy ourselves, because he, your brother, was dead, and has been revived; he was lost, and is found. "
We are the church. We are the family of God. We must share what is in the heart of our Father. The will of the Father is to invite all the lost to return home. And we should rejoice for each one, like the angels.
We are forgiven children of God by the grace of baptism. We are still sinners, but when we enter the house of God to publicly confess our sins and receive absolution, it is like the moment when the prodigal son confessed to his father, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and against you, and no longer I am worthy of being called your son. But, the Father take us in his arms and kisses us, because his children live again. This is the promise of confession and absolution, public and private. If any of you have a sin that weighs on your heart, I invite you to private confession.
In baptism, confession and absolution and the sacrament, we have forgiveness and love from the Father. Of course, we want to share this hope and peace that surpasses all understanding with others. Amen.
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