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

Maybe the most famous parable of the Bible is read today: The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1-3, 11-32).  Jesus tells this story as a response to Pharisees and scribes who complain about Jesus’ popularity with tax collectors and sinners.  In the parable, the younger of two sons demands of his father the inheritance due to him.  Taking it and going away, he squanders it, finds himself destitute, and decides to go back to his father to work for him.  The father welcomes him joyously and even throws a lavish party for him.  The loyal older brother gets wind of this and becomes livid, remaining obstinate even after the father pleads with him.  At top are the final words of the father to this older sibling.  Clearly this was aimed at the religious leaders who, being part of the Chosen People (the older brother), resented the fact that Gentiles, pagans, and “sinners” (the younger brother) were converting after having gone astray for a long time.  It is aimed at us today, as well.  May we never bemoan or resent when someone who has long led a life of dissipation, even of serious immorality or even criminal behavior (even if we are the victims), comes back to the Lord, even late in life, even on his deathbed.  We should be as overjoyed as the angels (Luke 15:10 — the parable that closes with this line was skipped in today’s reading) at such a conversion.  If we find this difficult, maybe it helps to remember that we all fall into the category of “sinners” and none of us are saved without the grace of God.  Let us be as overjoyed as the father (and Our Father) is when His open invitation to come home is accepted.

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