It’s the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. I’ve been reading some homilies on the subject, because I’m afraid I’ll miss my own priest’s sermon tomorrow because of illness.
One thing that impressed me about the story was the distance factor. The son was in a far country, when he realized what he needed to do. He was hungry and wasted, but he still needed to rise and go, to travel a long way, which must have been a struggle.
All of humanity is represented by the prodigal son, and most of us are still on the journey. Some of us have repented and are a bit farther on our way, but we are all clothed in our flesh, struggling with our sins, anticipating the day when we sit in the Kingdom and feast with our Father, enjoying the restoration of our full inheritance.
In the story, the son receives everything he had thrown away and lost. For now, we have the earnest of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God to help us continue. Every day I need to decide to take the next step on the way. But I know more than the son in the parable, who hoped for a corner of the pig shed. “…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
I’m afraid I often act a bit nonchalant, as though I am at the gate or even in my Father’s arms already. My initial coming to myself has to be followed up by a constant facing-up to the toil of the road. Maybe I have been sitting on the grassy shoulder wishing the trip weren’t so long, wondering if maybe someone will arrive and carry me the rest of the way.
St. Herman of Alaska reminds me: “The true Christian is a warrior making his way through the regiments of the invisible enemy to his heavenly homeland.”