+Peace and goodness to you this day!
Have you ever had the experience of over-hearing someone or some group of people talking about someone, and then suddenly realizing that they are talking about you? It can happen at work, at school, even at home or in your neighborhood. But sometimes hearing the truth, the non-filtered, whole truth, can be a really eye-opening thing. This happened to me in a big way when I was in high school. There was this girl. There’s always a girl. There was this girl who was incredibly talented, and beautiful, and I really liked her and she kinda liked me. And one day, this said girl says to me, “Hey, I’m trying out for the school play, and if you want to see me in the next twelve weeks, you’d better try out too.” Now, girls have been very good at getting me to do things for a long time, so I said and yes and tried out for the school play. Now, I had never been in a play before. And then, I found out that this play was going to be a musical. And I thought, oh great, they are going to say a few lines and then burst into song every few minutes. At the try-outs, they asked me if I could sing, and I was honest, I told them I couldn’t sing very well. So I thought, maybe I could be a stagehand or something. Oh no, they put in the chorus. I was going to have to sing! At least there would be no solos. So I learned the songs, I sang with the little group, kinda like I still do today at Mass, very softly, and I got to be close the girl. So opening night comes around, and the play starts, and I am back stage behind one of those big curtains, and on the other side of the curtain is the music director and the stage manager. And they are talking about some who can’t sing, and has no business being on stage, and the music director tells the stage manager to make sure that you turn the microphone way down on the chorus, so that the audience doesn’t hear him. Now, I’m listening to this conversation and I’m feeling bad for whoever they are talking about, because I thought they were more than a little mean, and then I realized, they were talking about me! She was telling the stage manager to turn the microphone down on me! I was devastated. I couldn’t even tell anyone because I wasn’t supposed to hear it. I just went out there on stage and moved my lips. Sometimes the truth really hits home.
Today, we hear the story of the Prodigal Son. Now, as Catholics, we have heard this story time and time again. It shows up often in our cycle of readings. Now, remember, this is a parable. And Jesus is addressing this parable to the Scribes and Pharisees. And as with all the parables, we are supposed to relate to the people in the parable. So were the Scribes and Pharisees. The one person in the parable that everybody immediately relates to, even feels sorry for, is the older son. He’s the good guy. He hasn’t squandered his inheritance, he hasn’t run away from his family, he hasn’t broken his father’s heart. He’s the faithful one. We’d all like to see ourselves in that way. Certainly, that’s also who the Scribes and Pharisees related to, as they heard this story two-thousand years ago. But Jesus flips this story around to make sure that the Scribes and Pharisees realize that He is talking about them. They are NOT the faithful older son, they are the Prodigal Son! And that realization really angers the Scribes and the Pharisees. They had been upset at Jesus for welcoming sinners and even eating with them. And Jesus reminds them with this parable, that we are all sinners. We are ALL the prodigal sons and daughters of the Father.
Now, we can hear this story today, and we can sit-back and say, “Wow, Jesus really let those Scribes and Pharisees have it!” “He sure got them!” What’s the problem with that? The problem is that this parable isn’t just addressed to the Scribes and Pharisees, in fact, two-thousand years later, there aren’t a lot of Scribes and Pharisees here today. Today, this parable is addressed to us, to you and to me. And let me make it real clear, we aren’t that perfect older son either. We are the prodigal sons and daughters of a very merciful and patient God. But we are prodigal! All of us! We sin. We break the commandments. We waste our God-given inheritance and blessings. Today, just like the Scribes and Pharisees two-thousand years ago, Jesus is reminding us that we are the ones who need to return to the Father, and say, “Father, forgive me for I have sinned.” No matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been, it is time to come back and say we’re sorry. And that’s an important message for us to hear as we reach the half-way point of this Lent. It is time for all of us to turn back to God.
And guess what? God is talking to YOU. He’s not talking to that person behind you, or that woman in the back of church, or the guy in the choir. Make no mistake about it, this parable is about YOU. You want to understand what’s going on here? Put yourself in the place of the Prodigal Son in this story, and you’ll realize just how much this God is longing for you! We can’t pretend. We can’t live in denial anymore. There’s not time for that. We must make things right while we have the opportunity. Why wait? Why do we put off what we know will help us the most?
This parable is about us, if we have the courage to accept it. Let us turn back to God. All God’s blessings and love and peace are waiting for us. Why let our sins keep us from all that He has in store for us?
+May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!