- Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought, ‘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 your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply, ‘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. But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”(Lk 15:1-3, 11-32). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel for 4wk of Lent c.
- The concept of being highly connected for a Nigerian connotes having access to uncommon favours and unmerited privileges. Through connections a poor man can become suddenly and instantly rich without much labour. High connection is the key to unmerited success. But being connected is not only a material concept. It is also spiritual. Today’s readings speak of the necessity of being highly connected spiritually through conversion. Being connected at this realm implies not losing one’s contact with God. In the first reading Joshua reconnected the Israelites to God by circumcizing all the male, a practice that was abandoned for forty years from the day they left Egypt. The reconnection and the subsequent celebration of Passover opened the promised land to them and gave them access to unmerited favours in a land flowing with milk and honey.
The gospel takes up the same theme through the parable of the prodigal son. A man has two sons. The younger wanted the father dead so that he can inherit his properties. As dead was not forthcoming he asked the father to go against tradition and give him his own inheritance while the Father was still alive. He got what he wanted and immediately disconnected himself from the father. The result was obvious: life of disorder and pleasure which lead to poverty and eventual loss of status. He found himself willing to share food with pigs. The downward movement was fast. He then remembered his root and made effort to reconnect with his father. He was gladly welcomed back by his father even though his brother disliked the loving attitude of the father.
A parable is just a fiction meant to convey a message. The message of the parable is that God is ever willing to receive the child who willingly disconnects himself from God if the child comes back. There are two aspects: the constancy of God in being good towards the sinner and the willingness of the sinner to come back to God. Through this gospel Jesus invites us to remember that sin is an abnormal situation that humiliates human being, degrading their dignity to the status of pigs. Whoever gets disconnected from God through sin ends up becoming slave to sin.
The parable, through the reactionary attitude of the senior son equally condemns those who are happy to see others live in sin and misfortune. Those who have remained connected with God through virtuous life should also understand that sinners are not enjoying anything. They are deprived of grace and every effort should be made to bring them back to the father’s house.
When you read of the prodigal son, think first of yourself. Have you not squandered the graces of God in your life? Have you put all your gifts and talents to good use? Are you truly highly connected with God? You are therefore invited to become a new creation. The second reading says that one who is truly connected with God through Christ is a new creation. Come back today with your whole heart and disown your past failures and remain once again connected to the source of uncommon favours. @Vita, 27/03/22.