by James Iliou
+ In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit.
what great blessings in my wretchedness have I deprived myself! From
what a kingdom in my misery have I fallen! I have wanted the riches
that were given to me, I have transgressed the commandment. Alas,
unhappy soul! You are henceforth condemned to the eternal fire.
Therefore before the end cry out to Christ our God: Receive me as the
Prodigal Son, and have mercy upon me."
This hymn is chanted on
the Sunday of The Prodigal Son, which we celebrated in yesterday's
Liturgy. We all know the parable of the father and his two sons, the
younger receiving his share of the money and going off to a far away
land and squandering it all on loose living. Then suddenly finding
himself poor and hungry he realizes his folly and comes to himself and
goes back to his father in repentance. His Father embraces him and
holds a feast in his honor for his return.
The older brother, a
son who always followed his father's wishes, never left his father's
side, becomes angry and jealous, refusing to partake in the joy of his
brother's return. He complains to his father saying: " Lo, these many
years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at
any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make
merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has
devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for
In the parable we are told and in our minds we think of
the younger as being the Prodigal. But which one of these two brothers
is truly the Prodigal Son? Is it the younger who leaves and comes back
in repentance, or the older brother who
refuses to welcome him back?
I tell you it is both brothers. For if we examine the parable from a
different view we will see that even though the older brother always
obeyed his father, he too is constantly squandering his fathers riches.
is he doing this? The Father has given all of us gifts, gifts that
could be used for His glory, or squandered for our own purposes. The
older son only obeys the father for he expects something in return! He
has gone by the book all his life, for all the wrong reasons. He has
not learned love, the perfect love that the father possesses! By not
striving to be as perfect as his father is, he does things for the
opposite reason, to what the father does.
He too lives in a
strange land, for his actions are strange to his father, this is not
the way that the Father created us to be, to live in self-centeredness,
and even worse not to realize the sin of selfishness, and therefore not
to feel the need to
repent. His brother was lost but now is found,
he was dead and now is alive again, all because of his remorse for his
way of living, and his repentance in returning to the love of the even
as a servant. His brother though is too blind to
for he has done everything in his life by his father's law, but all has
been done in vain, for he is lost in himself, and can not be found, he
is dead in his sin, and can not arise for he is too blind to see.
many Christians live by the book? Go to Church every service, out of
duty, pray to God, but with empty words, help the Church financially,
but for the wrong reasons, doing all this but never realizing the
intentions of God and how we
should truly live as Christians. They
go home and gossip about each other, slander their neighbors name, and
do not possess even the love to forgive their transgressors! Yet they
expect to be saved for their empty works.
We are entering Great
Lent soon, and Christ asks us today, which of these brothers are you
identified with? What will we answer? Do we truly see our sin, or just
our brother's and sister's? Do we indulge in cursing, gossiping, and
our follow Christian brother and sister's name? or do we come to
ourselves and strive to be better everyday in repentance? Do we truly
treat each other with Christian love or are we holding any grudges
against anyone, or does it matter, for we live by the book and feel
that we will be saved
We are all prodigals in our own
way, but let us be like the younger prodigal Son, let us realize that
we live in a strange land full of sin, and we need to return and live
in our Father's kingdom where love and peace rule. Remember the hymn I
quoted at the beginning "Therefore before the end cry out to Christ our
God: receive me as the Prodigal Son, O God, and have mercy upon me."
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