by Fr. Tommy Lane
There is a great search for happiness and fulfillment in life now. The emphasis now is on enjoying life. That search for happiness and fulfillment is symbolized by the prodigal son who went in search of happiness in the parable in today’s Gospel (Luke 15). The only problem was that he thought he could find happiness in what the parable calls a life of debauchery (Luke 15:13). We would say now he tried to find happiness by satisfying his every desire whether moral or immoral. This eventually led him to living with the pigs in the piggery. But true happiness is not to be found outside of ourselves, but within ourselves, in our own hearts. I am sure if his father or anybody else had tried to show him before he left home that he would be wasting his life and money, he would not listen. He had to be left to learn the hard way, from his own mistake, since there was no way you could reason with him. He also had to decide himself to come home. If someone went to bring him home he would resent it.
That younger son reminds me of the struggle of society at this time to be successful. We have a booming economy, we are a Celtic Tiger (1990’s), but in many ways we have a spiritual famine in our country at the moment. Because of that spiritual famine in some ways we have ended up like the younger son living with the pigs in the piggery. We could think of the instances of drug and alcohol abuse, all the fraud and stealing in the workplace, murders and violence, marital infidelity, priestly infidelity, all the rows and tensions between people. Because of these and so many other things we could say we are like the younger son living with the pigs in need of returning to our Father. So let us return, we won’t find happiness with the pigs. Happiness is to be found within, not outside of ourselves.
In the parable we are given a most beautiful description of our heavenly Father. He is outside of the house waiting for the younger son to return (Luke 15:20). When the son returns his father runs to him, clasps him in his arms, kisses him, brings him in and throws a party for him. When we return to God he throws a party for us. Not only does he come out of the house once, but he comes out a second time to try to persuade the elder son to come in (Luke 15:28). Our heavenly Father welcomes each of us to his party. The most beautiful line for me in the parable is what the father says to the elder son, “All I have is yours.” Our heavenly Father says to us, “All I have is yours.” This is a most beautiful promise and invitation. We were not told at the end of the parable whether or not the elder son went in to the party (Luke 15:32). After reading this parable we also have a choice to make, will we stay outside or will we go in to enjoy the Father’s party.
Far away hills look green, there are many attractions in life, there are many voices saying to us, “Follow me” or, “Follow your desires and you will find happiness.” But the best offer of happiness is from God our Father, “All I have is yours.” God our heavenly Father is outside the door waiting for us to come to him. When we return he runs to us, clasps us in his arms and invites us into the party. For the remainder of Lent we might try to make an effort to answer that invitation from our heavenly Father, “all I have is yours.” During every Mass we receive the same invitation from Jesus, “This is my Body which will be given up for you...this is the cup of my blood, it will be shed for you.” Let us go into the house and enjoy God’s party.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More material for Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C
Related Homilies: Parable of the Prodigal Son - saints have a past and sinners a future
Cardinal Ratzinger: Freedom without lawfulness
stories about God’s Mercy
stories about sin
stories about confession of sin
my commentary on the Parable of Prodigal Son in Enjoying the Bible