Sunday of the Prodigal Son
The Sunday of the Prodigal Son says so much to us! It speaks about our peace and abundance in the house of the Heavenly Father, about our mad departure from the Father’s guardianship to unbridled freedom, about the richness of the heritage given us despite our disobedience, about its reckless waste on all sorts of indecencies, and about our utter impoverishment as a result. But then it talks also about how one recovers his senses and coming to himself, decides to return to his greatly merciful Father. It talks about how he returns, how he is received. lovingly and is restored to his first state. Who will not find this lesson profitable? If you abide in your Father’s house, do not strive for freedom. You see how a similar experience ended! If you have run away and are squandering all, stop this quickly. If you have already squandered everything and are living in poverty, resolve quickly to return – and then, return. There every lenience and the former love and prosperity await you. This last step is the most necessary one. But there is no point in enlarging upon this. All has been said concisely and clearly. Come to your senses, resolve to return, arise and hasten to the Father. His embrace is open and ready to receive you.
From the book, “Celebration of Faith”, Fr. Alexander Schmemann:
This parable is read in church as believers are beginning to prepare themselves for Great Lent, the time of repentance. And perhaps nowhere else in the gospels is the essence, of repentance better revealed. The prodigal son left home and went into “a far country,” and it is this “far country,” this foreign land which shows us the deepest essence also of our own life, of our own condition. Only if we have understood this can we begin the return to authentic life. The person who has never felt this distance, even once in his life, who has never felt himself to be in a spiritual wasteland, separated, exiled, can never understand the meaning of Christianity.
A person who is totally “at home” in this world, who has never experienced longing for a different reality, cannot comprehend remorse and repentance. These are not simply the formal enumeration of one’s shortcomings, mistakes and even crimes. No, remorse and repentance are born from an experience of alienation from God and from joy in communion with him. It is relatively easy to admit my mistakes and shortcomings, but how much more difficult it is suddenly to realize that I have broken, betrayed and lost my spiritual beauty, that I am such a long way from my true home, from my true life; that something in the very fabric of my own life, something priceless, pure and beautiful has been destroyed and torn apart. But this realization is precisely repentance, and therefore necessarily involves a deep desire to go back, to return, once again to find the lost home.