Sunday of the Prodigal Son


In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How simple and how restrained are the words in which the Gospel describes his cruel rejection of his father, and prepares his departure into the far, the strange country! “Father, give me my part of thy inheritance!” Do these words not mean, “Father, I can’t wait until your death! You are still strong, and I am young; it is now that I want to reap the fruits of thy life, of thy labors; later they will be stale. Let us come to an agreement—for me you are dead. Give me what belongs to me or what would belong to me after your actual death, and I will go, and live the life I have chosen.”

This is what the young man really meant. But isn’t this very much the way we treat God and His gifts? As long as we are with Him, we are in possession of all things from Him; but we feel constrained by His presence, we feel limited by the inevitable rules of His household. He expects integrity and truth from us. He expects us to learn from Him what it means to love with all our mind, all our heart, all our strength, and all our being—and that is too much for us. But we take all His gifts, and we turn away from Him to use these gifts so that they can profit us and us alone, without any returns—not to God, or to anyone else.

We all, without any exception but in different degrees, obey the cruel, deceitful question of satan to Christ in the wilderness! You have the power to do it—turn these stones into bread. You are God's child - use the wisdom and strength that God has given you, use it for your own benefit! Why put it off until you are too old?.. Isn’t this an image of our own behavior?

And then the young man leaves. He leaves for an alien country, a country which is not God’s own, a country which has rejected God, renounced God, which has been betrayed into the power of His adversary, a country where there is no place for Him. And he lives according to the rules of that country, and to the desires of his heart. Then hunger comes.

Now we turn away, carrying with us the gifts of God. We also live in a country that is alien; we live in a world that is man-made and not God-made; or rather, made by God but distorted by man. What kind of hunger comes to us? We are rich, we are safe, we have everything that God gave us and continues to give us. Only we don’t realize that while God continues to give, we continue to squander. But what is the hunger that can come to us? The awareness that Christ describes in the first Beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God... Who are the poor in spirit? The poor in spirit are those who have understood, and understand day in, day out, throughout their life that they have no existence except that God loved us into existence; we have no life except God’s life poured into us—His breath, the breath of life. And then we are so rich, because God has revealed Himself to us. He has revealed Who He is. We can love Him, know Him, worship Him, serve Him, emulate Him indeed because He has become man and has shown us what a man can be. And He has given us all our intelligence, our heart, will, body, the world around us, the people around us, our relationships—all these are God’s, because we cannot make them. We cannot force anyone to love us, and yet we have friends and people who love us. We cannot be sure of our mind—in one moment a stroke can extinguish the greatest mind; there are moments when we want to respond to a need, to a suffering, but our heart is stony; only God can give it life! We waver between good and evil; only God can steady our will, and so on.

If we only realize this, we understand that we are totally destitute. We are nothing, we have nothing, and yet, we are so rich, because though destitute, we are endowed with all the gifts of God. Having betrayed Him time and again, turned away from Him time and again, we still are loved by Him; Indeed, “Blessed are the hungry for they shall be filled”! If we only realize our hunger for something real, it will come our way. But not simply because we are hungry. It will come our way at a moment when we are totally poor, for we are loved. And this is the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love. God loves us. And He has granted the gift of love to each of us. The young man felt hungry. He felt hungry for his father’s home, and yet he knew that he no longer had the right to call himself his son. He was a murderer! He had told him, “Die before your time that I may live according to my will...” And yet he goes, because he can still call the man whom he rejected, “Father”.

And what happens then? The father sees him coming from afar off; he does not wait with dignity for him to fall at his feet and confess his sins. He rushes towards him, he embraces him! And the young man makes his confession: I am no longer worthy to be called thy son. But at that moment the father stops him: you may not be worthy of being my son, and yet, you are my son, and you cannot become a hireling in your father’s house... He claims from him, as God claims from us, that we should be aware, and grow to the level of our human greatness—as children of the Living God called to be partakers of divine nature, His sons and daughters in Christ and in the Spirit.

That is what this parable tells us, this is what we must reflect upon: Where do we stand in relation to that young man’s first simple, cruel, and murderous words? And are we aware of our dereliction? Are we hungry enough to realize that we must go home to the only One Who loves us, and Who, seeing us fallen, still expects from us the greatness of sonship?

Let us reflect on this. It is one more step towards the day when we will come in repentance to make our confession and receive forgiveness. And if we are honest in our repentance, determined to turn Godwards, we will be at home, and ready to enter into Holy Week together with Christ the Son, together with the Father Who gives His Son, together with the Mother of God Who accepts the death upon the cross of Her Son—that we may be saved. Amen

Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh
Edited by


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