24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’m drawing a blank when it comes to the reflection on Sunday’s readings. Guess it’s because I’m on some “happy pills” because of a bad knee sprain last week. Jeez alou, those meds are something else! If I let myself go, I’d probably write something that’s on a par with the weird visions in the Book of Ezekiel!!!

It should be very easy to reflect on the readings. The Gospel is composed of three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the Prodigal Son. All three parables speak of the joy that comes from repentance and conversion.

In the parable of the prodigal son, it’s obvious that both sons are brats. Jesus indirectly condemns the younger son’s destructive self-centeredness, as well as the older son’s moralistic life. It’s really a story about two lost sons…and about my own lostness and yours.

The story obviously centers around the father’s great forgiveness, given without precondition. God’s forgiveness and love will pardon any and every kind of sin and wrongdoing. That is absolute truth….NOTHING we do will ever mitigate God’s love for us.

Now a cursory reading of the story seems to say that everything went back to normal for the younger son . But it didn’t – he had to suffer the consequences of his choice. He got his share of the estate, and blew it. Dad isn’t going to divide the estate again. Look at what he says to the eldest: “All I have is yours.” So God will forgive our sins, and so may the one we offended, but we still suffer the consequences.

The older brother was deeply afflicted with anger and feelings of superiority. These bring as much misery into the world as selfishness and self-centeredness. I’m like the elder brother when I become deeply angry and bitter if life doesn’t go the way I want. Elder brothers believe that if they live a good life, they should get a good life in return, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s really one big pity party. The elder brother reveals his true spirit when he boasts of his obedience to Dad, but then adds: “All these years I slaved for you.” It was not a happy, free obedience.

And the consequences to the elder brother? Interestingly, Jesus stops the story right there. No consequences are mentioned. And yet there are. Think about it…what would the consequences be if you said to someone or to God: “I have never disobeyed you! Now you have to do things in my life the way I want them to be done.”

Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!

Herb Yost, CSC

Fr Herb, C.S.C.

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