Pod-Cast en Español
Three parables about sinners: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. We have all lost something, therefore, can identify with the joy that comes when we find what was lost.
Since the majority of us don’t own sheep; even if we are animal lovers, the sheep story goes in one ear and comes out the other. We’ve all lost money, especially in Las Vegas. Money is important, but not the center of our life. However, when we consider the story about the rebellious son—the image touches each one of us. What family has not experienced problems? How many children have had problems communicating with their parents or parents with their children? Remember that Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and the scribes who had criticized Him for associating with sinners. Obviously the three stories make no sense logically because love is never logical. Makes no sense to leave ninety-nine sheep at risk in order to go after one. Makes no sense to have a celebration worth much more than the coin that was lost. Certainly makes no sense to receive a son who blatantly embarrassed his family by leaving. Take a look in the rearview mirror. How many times has God forgiven us? How many times have we messed up and come back to ask forgiveness? Only fools stay lost. The son was dumb to leave home but was smart enough to come back. Working with pigs, no matter in what culture is a “wake up” experience. The younger son was starving—that’s another “wake up” call. He couldn’t even eat the pig food. (Any of us who have been around pigs will never forget the smell.) We can’t help but feel sorry for the younger son who got himself into so much trouble. Got to admire the father—the patient, trusting, forgiving father. He should have taken some parenting classes. The father didn’t ask any questions, either before the sin or after the sin. He was accepting of his son without conditions.
Sounds like the way that God treats us. He gives us free will. He does not manipulate us. Some folks complain. Why doesn’t God stop us from doing wrong? Why doesn’t God prevent evil in the world? The answer is because He loves us. If we want to blow our inheritance—to spend our resources on useless things—God is not going to stop us. When we hit rock bottom—when there is nothing left—we can always come home. The door is open—no questions asked. Doesn’t seem fair. Apparently, God does not judge by our standards.
Fairness is what the older son questions. The older son had been faithful, stayed at home, worked hard for his father. However, there was resentment in his attitude. He was angry that his younger brother was treated as if he had never left. The party was what added insult to injury. The older son was jealous that his younger brother had insulted his father, spent all his money and now was received back like a hero. So the father tried to reason with the older son. “Everything I have is yours…” In other words, “I’m not taking anything away from you. There is enough of my love for both of you.” The story should give us a big clue that brothers and sisters are all different—we have no right to compare. How many times did we hear, “Look at your brother, why can’t you be like him?” “Why can’t you be like your sister?” Each of us is unique. We use much energy in making judgments. The challenge is to be forgiving and to accept forgiveness. Then we are ready to enter the party. Perhaps we can identify with each of the characters but the one who looks more like us is the younger son. All of us have been the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. God is looking for us, regardless of how lost we are. He welcomes us and treats us like we had never left.
The Eucharist is our party. The Father is the host. No questions asked. Time to celebrate and rejoice because we were dead and have been found.