Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
We are never far from God’s love, no matter how much we mess up our lives.
Catholic Catechism tells us, “Christ’s parable of the prodigal son illustrates the sublime meaning of his earthly ministry, which is to forgive sins, reconcile people to God, and lead us in true happiness.”
As Jesus subtlety points out to the Pharisees and scribes, it’s not their job to Judge. It’s God’s job. He then reminds them God is all-forgiving. I’m sure this concept blew their “elder brother” minds.
Some scholars say that the father in the story is representative of God. Others say the father is Christ.
In this homily, I’ve intentionally chosen to have the unseen mother be representative of Jesus Christ.
It is my great hope the story may help us all to better hear today’s Gospel message.
Perhaps there’s someone in our lives we need to forgive or to ask for their forgiveness.
The parable of Prodigal Son’s mother:
Then Jesus looked directly at the Pharisees and scribes and said; “Now the mother was watching all these things. Her heart ached when her youngest left home with his inheritance.
She told him, ‘Son, you will always be welcome back in this home. My love for you is great and I wish blessings upon your journey. Peace be with you.’
Her older son overheard the conversation and chastised his mother for telling his younger brother he can return whenever he wishes.
‘Father would never welcome him back in this house again.’
But the mother said, ‘loyal son of mine, I love your devotion. But harden not your heart toward your brother. For he is lost and needs to find his way home again. Forgive him. Love him. And pray he returns someday.’
But he stormed away in anger.
The father heard what the mother said to the older son and approached her.
They gave a knowing look to one another and both heaved a heavy sigh.
For how long would it be until the younger son returned? Would he ever come home or would they never hear from him again? The pain of not knowing was almost unbearable, but life goes on.
After years and years of worry, the mother had tears in her eyes as she saw her husband run off to greet the figure growing on the distant horizon.
For her heart knew her youngest child had returned home for good. The family was restored. Her heart sang.
She was the first to tend with loving care to her son’s painful blisters on his feet and give him water from the small jug she carried hurriedly out to him.
‘Blessed be the Lord, for the Holy One has returned our son home to us,’ she cried as she served him.
‘Forgive me, mother,’ he said in a quiet whisper. ‘You are forgiven, my son.’
Later as she was preparing the fatted calf for supper, her older son came to her in the kitchen to grumble about his conversation with his father.
‘Is this house mad? Father is acting like a man possessed. Mother, it is not fair that my brother be treated like royalty after squandering all Father gave him on a life of debauchery. I will not stand for this!’
His mother said in reply, ‘My love for you is no different than my love for your brother. He has asked for our forgiveness. He has been forgiven.
Remember son; this is the home of your mother and father. It is not your home yet. But I do love your passion and your desire to do what is right.
You should tell your brother how you feel, but do so with love and compassion and don’t be self-righteous.
I pray you will find it in your heart to forgive him. For he loves you very much and it is your example of being a faithful son he will follow from now on. So, be a good and loving example as your father and I have set for you both.’
But the older brother walked away in anger.
Once again, his mother had offered wisdom that he would wrestle with for days before finally talking to his brother and reconciling their relationship.”
And God does not want us to judge others, but use our energies to serve Him better.
The Catholic Catechism teaches us, “we must always entrust the judgment of a person to the mercy and justice of God.”
If Christ appeared before us today and showed such radical love and forgiveness, would we be cool with it? Or would we condemn him?
As we ponder these questions, I have one final thing to ask: who in our lives do we need to forgive or ask for their forgiveness.
My prayer is that we will act upon this powerful Gospel message and let Jesus Christ heal that relationship.