Skip to main content

What to do with the Prodigal Son?

artist Max Beckmann
We all know the story of the Prodigal Son. The best part of the story is that it ends so nicely. The Son comes home, gets a big party, and even though the "good" son's nose gets bent out of shape, he comes around when the all-understanding and ever-loving dad explains his love for both boys. Yay, family life!

Now, I realize this is a parable and not a novel, so the grittiest of details are left out. We also really only get to see the story from the Prodigal's point of view. We don't hear of the heart-wrenching nights the father spends looking out the window, praying for his son's safety and wondering what he had done wrong as a dad. The servants must have spent plenty of time gossiping about their versions of "what went wrong". We get a hint of the sibling rivalry; was it always there?

My family has its own Prodigal. We pray, we weep, we counsel, we talk, we listen. Nothing seems ever to have worked for very long. He has his own way of viewing the world, and it is wholly "self"-centered. He seems bent on self-destruction at some points, at other points seemingly wanting to destroy family relationships. It's sad, and it's infuriating.

As a mother, I want my Prodigal to return to me, but what I really must hope for is that he returns to God. In his current mindset, I am afraid there is no room for God. That's the real tragedy.

For now, we watch and pray. We wait and hope. Being in the midst of a parable is not as satisfying as being at the end of one, but at least we know what we're aiming for.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…

Be Brave

A few years ago, it came to my attention that a young family member was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was able to share with her a bit of my own struggles, and let her know she wasn't alone.

A few weeks after our talk, I saw the movie, "Brave." It struck me that the young protagonist, Merida, modeled a great quality. She was indeed brave.

Being brave is not about recklessness. It is not about confidence. It's not about being foolish, or looking for glory in the eyes of others.

Bravery is about doing what is right, even when you are a quivering mess. It's about knowing that things may not turn out the way you expected, but forging ahead anyway. Being brave is standing by the hospital bed while a loved one is dying, and all you really want to do is turn back time. Bravery is standing up to a bully, when your legs are screaming for you to run. Brave is doing what needs to be done even when you're scared and tired and feeling helpless and hopeless.

I …