Archive for March, 2004

Homily — 4th Sunday Lent C March 21, 2004

Sunday, March 21st, 2004
Homily — 4th Sunday Lent C March 21, 2004The Prodigal Son by Salvador RosaThe Fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday, Laetare being the Latin word for “Rejoice” — we are called to rejoice. Today’s Gospel ends with that very call to rejoice with the Father and with sinners who have come to their senses and returned to their Father’s House.

The younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country. To be in mortal sin is to be distant from God and from those who really love us. We can at times live or work under the same roof with prodigal people, but due to their life of sin they are in a distant country, far away from us spiritually.

In this distant country, the younger son squandered (all) his inheritance on a life of dissipation. It doesn’t take long for sin to consume us and leave us with nothing. Sin has a way of giving a moment of pleasure with nothing but faded memories to show for it.

When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country and he found himself in dire need. Not only does sin leave us with nothing, it leaves us with nothing in a distant country far away from home, surrounded by other sinners who have also lost everything. Sin creates a culture of death, depression, and isolation.

But then, Jesus tells us that coming to his senses the younger son thought about what life at home was like.

The man came to his senses. That’s actually a beautiful phrase we have in our English, but we probably don’t stop to think about it much though.

What does it mean to “come to one’s senses”? It means to realize what one is sensing versus what one could rather be sensing. We have five senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch taste — and sin ultimately does a number on them all.

What did the younger son see in that distant country? He saw famine, filthy pigs, strangers who didn’t care for him, and prostitutes who didn’t really love him. But coming to his senses, he also remembered what could be seen in His Father’s House: abundant crops, friends and family who had truly cared for him and really loved him.

In that distant country, the son heard the complaining of hungry, unsatisfied people. But in His Father’s House he remembered hearing fine music, laughter, and words of wisdom, love and forgiveness.

Coming to his sense of smell, he realized how terrible the smell of pig dung really was when you compare it to the home cooking and clean laundry he always received in His Father’s House.

And in the uncomfortable pig sty where his sin had driven him to live, he felt the pinch of poverty, cold and dampness. Little did he realize that the Father had a nice warm robe and comfortable shoes waiting for him should he return.

Lastly, the younger son came to his sense of taste. Now that sin had consumed all his inheritance, there was nothing to taste any more except animal food. And it was horrible to even think about it, but in his depravity he was beginning to develop a taste for animal food, he was starting to crave it, so low had he sunk. By coming to his senses, the man remembered tasting the Lord’s goodness in His Father’s House.

I shall rise up and return to my Father, saying “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I no longer deserve to be called your son, treat me as one of your hired hands.”

If we jump to the end of the parable, we see what happens when a sinner comes to his senses. There is that same younger son, once very young and foolish, now a bit older and wiser. There he is in His Father’s House, seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting all the good things that a life of mercy, love and forgiveness give us.

Now we must rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.

May we learn to rejoice with the Father over the return of his wayward son, and may our heavenly Father give us wayward sons and daughters the grace to come to our senses and taste the Lord’s goodness.