(Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32) The Pharisees got it right for once when they said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15:2). What they intended as a slight toward Jesus actually reveals a fundamental truth about the human condition and our Lord’s response. Yes, we are all sinners…which is precisely why Christ came! The parable that Jesus goes on to tell in this week’s Gospel serves as a fitting analogy for the lack of faith in our modern culture.
Like the young man, many people today are impatient and anxious, wanting to live for now – free and unfettered from any authority. We readily abandon all that we have been taught, allowing our hearts to travel far from the roots of our Christian faith in search of something new and exotic. We squander the gifts we’ve been given, the resources and talents that are meant to be shared. Or, like the older brother, we harbor a sense of self-importance and entitlement. We think that we can somehow earn the Father’s love and our heavenly inheritance through our own merits. Neither is the response that God is asking of us.
Ultimately, we must depend on God’s grace to set things straight, to help us align our hearts and minds with His. For the young man, that moment of grace came from an experience of profound emptiness, not only in his stomach but in the core of his being. He “came to himself” (Lk 15:17) and humbly returned home. His actions remind us that when we empty ourselves and give up our own selfish pursuits, God’s grace works best in us. Once we realize that what we have been searching for was actually ours all along, we begin to appreciate the gift of unconditional love. In our world today, there are many “lost” souls, but God never gives up. Truly none of us is worthy to be called His child, yet our loving Father wants nothing more than to lavish us with His grace and claim us as His own.
– Kelley Holy