‘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.’ ~ Luke 15:31-32
Every Catholic school girl (or boy) knows this story — one of the Prodigal Son who took his inheritance, wasted his money on things of the world, and realized later on that he was wrong.
I remember buying a few gospel books during my elementary days from those people from St. Paul who came by our school once a year. Looking back, I realize just how much of a Catholic school girl I really was. I adored those two kiddie gospel books I purchased (which I didn’t even have to coerce my parents into buying!) that contained mini stories from the bible such as those of Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Moses, Joseph, etc. I read those books over and over and found myself amazed at just how nice God was. That was my first shallow understanding of His unconditional love.
As I read this gospel today, though, I’m seeing the story of the Prodigal Son with brand new eyes. I always just used to view this as one that showed how forgiving and loving God was as a Father. What I failed to see, though, was the role of the older brother in the story which, when read in context, represents those who have long been consistent, faithful, and obedient to their loved ones.
Has there ever come a time when you felt someone close to you was loved and appreciated more than you by (another) someone whom you never failed to show your own love to? Have you ever found yourself fighting for someone’s attention? Have you ever found yourself conflicted on whether or not your feelings of jealousy are even rational? I’ve encountered this a couple times in big and small ways in my life. Big, in such a way that I really took the matter to heart and made fits about it in public. Small, because in some instances, I got to stop myself from going full-on crazy green monster mode.
Thinking about it now, I realize just how much the Father has changed me through the years with His Words. These are the things that I got out of rereading this gospel today:
- Whenever you feel like you aren’t enough for someone, remember that our God appreciates and loves us no matter what. People will sometimes fail us, but He never will.
- Be more loving and understanding with those whom you think are “replacing” you. Others may be giving them the extra attention because they’re the ones who don’t feel they are loved enough, or else really need to feel that they are loved. They may also be the ones who need more guidance. God has called each of us to share the love that we have received. So instead of focusing on what isn’t, focus on what is — the fact that you know and acknowledge His presence in your life and that you have the ability to let others experience that as well. Let us be the older brother who never questions but is content with living out his days with the Father and the brother whom he loves.
- No one is too broken or wicked or sinful for God. He loves all of us equally and can heal and restore you just as well, if not even better, as how he has restored other people. You may not believe it, but the best charismatic speakers in the world are ones who have gone through the worst trials and lived the wildest lives. Yup, like the Prodigal Son. But see? God the Father loved them so much that He allowed them to encounter Him, welcomed them with open arms, and gave them new life. Don’t ever think that you aren’t “holy” or “ready” enough to approach God, because God will always take you in no matter what.
To end, I would like to leave you with the words from today’s Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:17-21):
Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Have a blessed Sunday! 🙂