Homily from Sunday March 27, 2022 – 4th Sunday of Lent
A guy was walking along in the woods, when a bullet whizzed by. “Is that you Lester?” The guy yelled.
“Yes it is,” came the reply.
“Well, why are you shooting at me? We don’t have any quarrel.”
“That’s right,” said Lester.
“So why are you after me?”
“Remember old Jake Grabble and the feud you had with him?”
“Yes, I do. But old Jake is dead.”
“I know,” said Lester – “but I’m his executor of his will.”
That’s the way with so much of life: the anger and sadness keep rolling on and we keep feeding it. That’s why we need to hear what Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel.
The story of the Prodigal Son, OR retitled the Story of the Forgiving Father, is like all parables.
Its structure is simple. Its characters are few, and it lacks a conclusion; because it is up to us to supply the ending. We ask, what does it mean? – When we should be asking, what can it mean?
What about that older brother? How will it end for him? Charles Dickens calls this parable “the most touching story in literature.”
The details of the younger son’s behaviour are not the point of the story. His sin was not so much what he had done, but where he was. Jesus called it “a distant land”. That describes, not a geographical location, but his spiritual condition.
The wayward son had separated himself from the place to which he belonged. When the boy got close to home he discovered that someone was looking and longing and running to meet him. The speech he had planned “Father I have sinned” was smothered in the embrace of his waiting father.
Jesus said of the elder son (He became angry and refused to go in) because he had an attitude, he wanted to be sure that everyone knew how badly he had been treated.
This fellow is familiar to us. We have seen him at family celebrations many times, and all of us, at least at times, are like that older brother, and his refusal to forgive may have fractured the family more than what the younger son had done.
Forgiveness takes time, it cannot be forced. We have to acknowledge the hurt and anger that is there. We cannot rush any healing process, without healing any wounds. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are welcome at God’s table in our incompleteness. We don’t need to have everything resolved before approaching this table. None of us is perfect or has it all together, or knows it all.
We are always invited here to celebrate and rejoice – whether we are wayward or reconcilers – because we are both.