A PARABLE FOR OUR TIME
In no other parable has Jesus desired to make us delve so deeply into the mystery of God and into the mystery of the human condition. No other parable is so timely for us as that of the “good Father.”
The younger son tells his father, Give me the share of the estate that should come to me. By demanding his share, he is in some way asking for his father’s death. He wants to be free, to break bonds. He will not be happy until his father disappears. Without saying a word, the father gives in to what his son wants; the son must freely choose his own path.
Is not this the situation today? Many today want to see themselves free of God, to be happy without the presence of an eternal Father on their horizon. God must disappear from society and from our consciences. And just as in the parable, the Father keeps quiet. God coerces no one.
The son sets off to a distant country. He needs to live in another country, far from his father and from his family. The father sees him depart, but does not abandon him; his father’s heart accompanies him; each morning he will be waiting for him. Modern society drifts further and further away from God, from his authority, from the remembrance of him… Is not God accompanying us while we keep losing sight of him?
Quickly the son settles down into a life of dissipation. The original word in Greek does not just suggest moral disorder, but unwholesome, unbalanced and chaotic existence. Soon, his adventure starts to turn into drama. A severe famine takes place unexpectedly in that country, and he only survives by taking care of swine as slave of a stranger. His words reveal his tragedy: Here am I, dying of hunger.
Inner emptiness and hunger for love can be the first signs of our estrangement from God. The path to freedom is not easy. What do we lack? What could fill our hearts? We have almost everything, but why do we feel so hungry?
The youth came to his senses. As he sank deeper into his own emptiness, he remembered his father’s face that he associated with abundance of bread: in the house of my father, they have more than enough to eat, and here I am, dying of hunger. Awakening within him is the desire for a new freedom alongside his father. He recognizes his mistake and makes a decision: I shall get up and go to my father.
Will we set out on the journey to God our Father? Many would do so if they knew the God who, according to Jesus’ parable, ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His embraces and kisses speak of his love better than every book on theology. Alongside God, we can find a more dignified and happy freedom.
September 11, 2016
24 Sunday O.T. (C)
Luke 15, 1-32