The Story of Two Boys

03-31-2019Weekly ReflectionFather Prince Raja

On this fourth Sunday of Lent, when the Church already rejoices in the coming feast of Easter, singing "Laetare Jerusalem", "Rejoice, O Jerusalem", it is the Gospel of the return of the prodigal son that is proposed to us as today's reading. And this is indeed a Gospel of joy and peace, for it concerns a truly profound and lasting conversion: that of a son who returns to his father and throws himself at his feet, asking for his forgiveness for having squandered his entire inheritance. Here we are called upon to renew ourselves and experience the loving invitation of our Lord.

The story of two boys

The Good Boy and the Bad Boy In the parable of today, there are clearly three main characters: the elder son, the younger son, and the father. Who do you think is the hero, who is the anti-hero, and who is the supporting character? Often this story is called the parable of 'the prodigal son,' creating the impression that the younger son, who "left for a distant country" (Lk 15:13), is the hero of the story. Some suggest that this story be called, the parable of "the prodigal father" or "the parable of the good boy and the bad boy". These seem meaningful. Most versions of the Bible entitle this story as "the parable of the lost son" (GNB, NIV) – suggesting that even the elder boy could be the lost son. To resolve this dilemma, I think, we should look at the whole chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke.

The chapter begins this way (Luke 15:1-3): "The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and scribes complained, 'This man', they said, 'welcomes sinners and eats with them.'

The prodigal son did not get the full opportunity to fully express to his father that he would become a paid servant. The Father immediately readmits him as the part of the family and gives the order to bring the robe, the ring, and the sandals and to kill the fatted calf for a celebration. The younger son in reality had a warped notion of his father's forgiveness. He had no understanding of what mercy really means. But now he had just learnt the depth of the love of the Father. The elder son also did not know what forgiveness and love meant. He did not and could not forgive his younger brother for his misdeeds. In this parable Jesus teaches us the depth of the generosity of God and his mercy. God our heavenly Father is always waiting at the door waiting for us to come to him. At every Mass we receive the same invitation from Jesus, to share his body and blood and hence his forgiveness.