Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, 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.
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.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
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.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
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.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
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.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
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.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
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.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
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.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
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.’”
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God…
Reflection by Br. Francis Eells, FSC
The Prodigal Son: how many times have each of us read or heard this one? One memorable time for me was a conference in the novitiate with Bro. Don Mouton. In his analysis he flipped the focus to the older brother and his failures to mediate between the younger brother and the dad and asked us to see when we are the older brother. In community, do we leave it to the director to solve all the problems? In school, do we leave it to the principal?
More recently, I heard a Vincentian priest asking a group of high school students to focus on the dad. How can we be more like the dad? How can we be less judgmental? How can we be more forgiving? How can we love more? They are a challenge.
In some ways these two views can be in conflict. One seems to say you need to jump in and confront others when they are headed in the wrong direction. The other says be loving, be forgiving, things will work themselves out.
What I think is amazing about Jesus’ parables is that they often are less about definitive answers than provocative questions. We are all three characters during our lives. For each, Jesus gives a guide. When we are the younger brother, we need to learn how to ask forgiveness. When we are the older brother, we need to learn how to step in and help out before things go really bad. When we are the dad, we need to be able to forgive and rejoice. When each learns the lesson, the Kingdom has a chance.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us!
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever!
Brother Francis, closing in on 30 years as part of the Institute, has spent most of his teaching career in Pennsylvania. In 2002, Br. Francis would move to Washington DC however, to help establish the San Miguel School of Washington, acting as the San Miguel School’s first Principal for a decade. Now the Director of the District’s Vocation efforts, Br. Francis travels to the ministries of DENA and beyond promoting the Brothers’ vocation, inviting young people to take a deeper look at the work God is calling them to, and inviting young men to see the Christian Brothers as an answer to God’s call.