Sunday of the Prodigal Son

posted Mar 25, 2010, 11:11 PM by fr.irenei@stjohnsacademysf.org
January 26, 2010 - Dear Parents: 

This Sunday, January 31, begins the second week in which the Church prepares Her children for the start of Great Lent. Last week's physical preparation allowed us to not fast on Wednesday and Friday as we normally are expected to do. Thus having strengthened our bodies with a fast- free week, the Church this week reinstates the fast for these two days. As for our spiritual preparation, we are given the Parable of the Prodigal Son as our Sunday's Gospel reading. 

This parable describes for us two spiritual temptations that all of us face at different times in our lives. We are the prodigal son whenever we sin. Our sin results in our leaving our Father's House, meaning that we become separated from God and the Holy Church. Our separation deprives us of God's blessings and protection and, unless corrected, results in our eventual complete spiritual poverty leading to spiritual death. How can this disaster be corrected? By our humble return to our Father's House- through repentance. 

What is truly remarkable as demonstrated in the parable is how unquestioning and complete is the forgiveness given by the Father to His prodigal son. Seeing his son returning elicits only profound joy, and he rushes out to meet and embrace him. He asks no explanation, nor does he demand an explanation or apology. He simply restores him to his former position and orders a celebratory feast. What incredible love and mercy! Our Lord is anxious to forgive and restore every sinner no matter as to what depth of evil and sin that sinner has fallen into. All a sinner needs to do is to return to his Father's House. Meditating on this fact can only give us strength to examine ourselves during Great Lent, a period set aside exactly for this purpose, and sincerely, completely effect our return. 

But there is a second temptation discussed in this parable that we must be very cautious about.We must never copy the behavior of the older son who never left his Father's house. Unlike his Father, there is no joy in his heart. He only feels resentment and utter condemnation for his brother. This often happens to us when we see and judge somebody whom we consider to be a sinner. We have no love for this person and reject him. We will even try to interfere with his return, considering him to be unworthy and beyond redemption. Sadly, we saw this kind of behavior in an extreme development when supposedly pious Orthodox Christians could not accept the reunification of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church and willingly left their Father's House rather than accept their supposed prodigal brothers. 

We, too, need to be cautious because in small ways we also exhibit this kind of behavior. Only compassion and unquestioning love will allow us to remain in our Father's house throughout the whole of our life on earth. Great Lent is the perfect time to thoroughly examine ourselves in an honest manner and remove from our hearts through God's Grace the spiritual distortions of both the prodigal and the older son.May God bless and aid us in this very important work. 

In closing, I wish all of you a blessed second preparatory week. 

With Love in Christ,
Archpriest Serge Kotar
Chaplain
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