The Parable of the Lost Son
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - September 15, 2013 - 12:00am

Our Gospel today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is quite a long one. I just hope that I have enough space to write my thoughts or my comments about this scripture reading which is “The Parable of the Lost Son.” You can read it in Luke 15:1-32.

“1 The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to [Jesus], 2 but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So to them he addressed this parable…

11 Then he said, “A man had two sons, 12 and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me,’ So the father divided the property between them. 13 After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

14 When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. 15 So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. 16 And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 17 Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.

18 I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.” 20 So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come to life again, he was lost, and has been found.’

Then the celebration began. 25 Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27 The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.

28 He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him, 29 He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.

30 But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. 31 He said to him, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 32 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.”

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I must have written about this parable so many times that I have lost count. But this story starts with the Pharisees and scribes who complained that this Jesus Christ would dare break bread with sinners. These Pharisees and scribes are so judgmental of people. They only have contempt for those whom they believe have committed a public sin. They have totally forgotten that God is a merciful God and demands love from everyone, including the Pharisees and scribes. So their contempt led to the Parable of the Lost Son.

This parable is a simple story, which even today is also happening to many families…even here in Cebu, where an estranged son would demand from his father his inheritance even if the father were still alive. Of course at the end of the story the problem was with the obedient son who was unhappy with the return of his brother. After all, who wouldn’t get mad when your brother practically slices half your father’s property and squanders and eventually loses all his inheritance money, and ended in a life of poverty.

Yes, we have all the reasons to condemn that wasteful son. In Cebuano, we would say “Mayra or Merisi”. But then I should remind you…that God doesn’t think like the way we humans think. Deus Caritas Est…God is love and God loves a sinner with a contrite heart and forgives that sinner.

If you read the story intently you will notice that when the son was still far off, the father saw him already and was filled with compassion. He ran to meet his lost son and kissed and embraced him. If you didn’t notice it…the father already forgave his son even before the son gave his father his “I have sinned” speech. So it is with God, when we sin and have a contrite heart and truly sorry for committing our sin…God will always be there to forgive us. That’s the gist of today’s parable…the mercy of God for sinners.

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