I Am The Prodigal

Nothing feels as good as coming home.  Whether it’s at the end of an especially tiresome workday or coming home for the first time in many years — home is the place at the heart of our souls.  It’s where we are most ourselves.  It’s where we are energized and made whole again.  Home is so much more than a house.  While the walls and floors and furnishings may be the physical parts of a home, the soul of a home is the family within it.  Family gives us life and our beginning.  If we’re blessed with a loving and supportive family, home is where we long to be, no matter our age or circumstances.  Home grounds us, refreshes us and lets us rest and become our truest selves.  Home embraces us, revives us, and allows us to dream.  Home gives us permission to be loved.
 
Home is what the prodigal son had lost.  He’d left home with his share of his father’s estate and hit the road.  He’d lived the high life and spent all his attentions on himself. “He squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation” (Luke 15:13).  Finally he hit bottom.  Out of money and the friends money had bought for him, he found a job feeding scraps to a farmer’s pigs.  For a Jew, working with swine was the lowest job in the world.  Starving, he remembered his father and their home.  He thought to himself: “I shall get up and to to my father” (Luke 15:18).  The prodigal wants to go home.
 
Catholics hear this parable and we think of ourselves as the prodigal son or daughter.  God, our Father, has given us the gift of life and everything in it.  Our home with Him is one of joy and light and peace that surpasses understanding.  We are His beloved children and heirs.  And yet, this isn’t enough for us.  We want even more and we think we can find “more” away from His home, out in the world.  And so we leave.  We try our own way.  We leave our home behind.  We try to forget our Father’s ways.  We try new ways with new people.  We go from place to place and relationship to relationship, always looking for something, but never really knowing what.  We work.  We play.  But we’re starving inside.  Our heart longs for….home.  And the house and the love of our Father. 
 
There’s a wonderful and very revealing verse in the parable of the prodigal son.  He’s on the journey home and “while he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion” (Luke 15:20).  This tells us so much about our loving God.  He has made us as His beautiful children, loved by Him since the beginning of time.  He made the universe just for you and for me.  And from the moment of Adam’s sin, He put in place a people and a plan to draw us back to His heart and to our true home in heaven.  Yet we forsake our inheritance because we think we can find our own way in the world.  We believe we know what’s best for us.  We stop praying.  We stop reading His Word.  We stop going to Mass.  We invest our time and treasure in the things of the world.  And the world leaves us cold and alone and starving for the Truth.  In each of our lives there comes a moment, or a series of moments, when we realize there is no peace outside the Father’s home.  It’s this soul-satisfying peace that we so desperately long for and we find missing in our lives away from Him.  St. Augustine sums it up beautifully when he writes: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Something brings us to our knees—a broken relationship, an addiction, a financial loss, the death of a loved one—and our broken hearts long for the healing forgiveness and mercy of our Father.  Like the prodigal, we want to go home.
 
Jesus has always been looking for us to come back to Him. Every day, He has peered down the road of our lives, hoping to see us return to Him.  No matter how long we’ve been away from Him and His Church, He never forgets our face and our heart.  His longing has been to enfold us in His loving arms and welcome us home as His child and the heir to His Kingdom.  No sin can separate us from the love of Christ.  The story of the prodigal son teaches us how precious we are to Jesus and how much joy we give Him when we come back home to Him.  Jesus has never ceased to think of us and love us and want us back.  When we come to Him on our knees and admit sorrow for our sins, His mercy and love embraces us.  Like the prodigal’s father, He longs to give us a party with the finest food and drink.  And He does.  Christ gives us Himself in the Sacrifice and Celebration of the Holy Mass.  There, at His altar, we are truly home.  We find peace there, and our heart’s desire..  We, who once were dead, are now alive again.  We were lost, and now are found.
 
“God is waiting for us, like the father in the parable, with open arms, even though we don’t deserve it.”
                                                —St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. frjuanvelez
    May 23, 2012 @ 04:31:29

    And in the sacrament of Reconciliation we hear Christ’s words through the priest “Et ego te absolvo” (And I absolve you). Christ forgives our sins. He welcomes us back to the house of the Father.

    Reply

    • tiberjudy
      May 30, 2012 @ 16:29:28

      Father Juan honors me by his commenting on my posts. Anyone interested in authentic Catholic scholarship should visit his website at frjuanvelez.wordpress.com. Thank you always, Father, for your vocation and for your commentary. Blessings to you.

      Reply

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