|Byzantine Icon of the Prodigal Son's Return|
Who do we find ourselves to be the Parable of the Prodigal Son told in the Gospel of St. Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32? Are we the prodigal, the father, the citizens of the country, the brother, the pigs, or perhaps the slave? Perhaps we find ourselves to be none of these characters and wonder why it is we must hear this story again and again. After all - it is ready every third year on the 4th Sunday of Lent and constantly in every Sunday School classroom on earth. There is a reason for this, the story speaks to everyone, if we will have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.
Are we the pigs? What, you say! Pigs! Yes, are we ever the pigs in our own lives? Are we ever guilty of becoming mindless consumers which are oblivious to the need of others right in front of us? The actual pigs in the parable had a good excuse: they were animals without critical thought. You and I do not have this excuse and yet every day millions of humans, made in the image of God, treat others as if they do not exist because of pure selfishness. We live in a culture where we have become so obsessed with keeping up appearances and unrealistic standards of living that our wallets are closed to the poor and needy. We quite literally become as pigs with our heads buried so deeply in desire and material lust that we miss the person starving before us. God calls us to open our eyes, lift up our heads, and go on a ‘diet’ so that someone else might not fear for their next meal or a roof over their head on a cold night. May we strive to not be the pigs!
Who are you, who am I, who is the Christian church today in this Parable? May we pray to God that by his grace we all become as the Father and rejoice over all people welcoming them fully into our faith communities.