Check out my reflection for today’s readings for Catholics On Call.
The lucky one, the favored one, these were the ways in which I viewed the prodigal younger son in this week’s Gospel. For years, I have struggled with this passage, and it seems to always be present, with it being so often repeated in our liturgical cycle. Shaking my head, sighing, I’d sit in my pew, wondering why God doesn’t favor the other son. I cannot tell you my exact moment of conversion, but I do recall it being fairly sudden. It began with the idea of “Well Kate, who are you in this story”?
Let’s start at the beginning. A reflection of the characters and characteristics in this week’s readings help us understand who we are called to be. First, who is God in these passages? The Old Testament excerpt might seem strange to us as the Lord depicted in Exodus seems so far from how we may view a loving God! Here, Moses has to plead with God to not act with anger. However, what this tells us is how much our Lord desires a relationship with each of us. When we are lost and wander away, it extremely upsets God.
Well, why doesn’t God reach into our lives and yank us back into His fold? Free will. In order for this to be voluntary, not merely an act of servitude, we must take a step towards Him. The Psalm’s refrain is “I will rise and go to my father”. This demonstrates that God loves us enough to give us a choice. We must want to be members of the Body of Christ.
Next, who are we called to be? The simple answer is ourselves, flaws included. God has a unique plan for each of us, yet universally calls us to be his followers. The second reading demonstrates this. The author, said to be either Paul or one of his supporters, mentions how he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and an arrogant person. Guess what, God wants you anyway! As the author says “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. He doesn’t just request the righteous, he calls those who have failed, struggled and cried out for help. He calls us ALL to be in a deep relationship with Him.
Now, the Gospel presents the hard lesson today. Who am I in the story of the prodigal son? I always assumed myself to be the older child. Honestly, can’t we all empathize with the idea of doing the right thing and not feel recognized or appreciated?
When I stepped back and questioned my presumed role, I started to realize, that I could be seen as the prodigal son. Haven’t there been times in my life where I’ve been angry with God, or not interested? Haven’t there been moments where I’ve walked away, saying I wanted full control of my life? Haven’t there been moments where I’ve squandered the gifts, talents, and blessings God has given me?
Well, if I am he, how that changes my understanding! Then I want God to welcome me back in. So, shouldn’t I want that for all my brothers and sisters? The good news expressed is that God does not expect us to walk the path back to Him alone. As the Gospel tells us, “He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him”. God so longs to have a relationship with each of us. But, just like the Psalm beckons of us today, we must rise and go to our Father. He gives us the tools and the inheritance, but we must make that first step to him.
From this Sunday’s readings, there are many lessons to be learned. We should realize that God is a loving God, one who becomes upset when we stray from Him. As children of God, we are invited into relationship with him, never forced. However, if we start the journey to God, He will continue to do the work. Regardless of what we have done, whether we have been the Israelites or the wasteful child, a blasphemer and oppressor of the faithful, or an imploring Moses or a loyal son, God wants us to know Him profoundly.
Today, let us recognize and rejoice! Each of us are the lucky and favored child because we all have the opportunity to know God in a deeply personal way. All we must do is accept His invitation, and take the first step towards Him. So let us stand, and go towards our Father. He is waiting for us!