Saturday, November 15, 2008

Are We the Prodigal or Elder Son?

Dear friends,

The scriptures scholars agree that the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luc 15:11-32) is the Gospel within the Gospel. Why? Because this Gospel is so beautiful and has a very deep message, and I think the message is clear to us: there’s a great joy in heaven when one sinner converts from their sins, also God, depicted as a very kind father in this story, will accept the sinners as what they are, no matter how big and how dense their sins. The message of this parable is crystal clear.

This parable, however, challenges us by posing a question: Are we brave enough to go back to God with all our sinfulness? I think it is not easy to answer this question, because we usually choose to stay in our sinfulness, we reject receiving the mercy of God by living in excessive guilty. Obviously, this is not healthy and it could be the work from the evil one with the false piousness whispered in our mind.

Another interesting part of this parable is about the elder son. He is the good one, he obeys all of his father’s commands, and never trespasses them. But he counts every goodness that he made and compares it with the wickedness of his younger brother, saying: “I have done this and that, but you never pay attention to me. And that wicked son of yours come to you and you celebrate his coming with great feast. What kind of father you are!” The attitude of the elder son is practically ours as well. We tend to count “good things” that we have done and compare them with that of other people, saying: “I have done many things for the house, and you, what have you done. Look, it is me that did this and that. You are bad because your life is like this and that, look at my life, my life is perfect without any blame. Bla-bla-bla…”

Didn’t Jesus say this: “If you do something good, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing; do not sound the trumpet before you so that many people may praise you.” Let us remind the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple. The Pharisee stands, saying: “God, I thank you that I AM NOT LIKE other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of my income.” But the tax collector, standing far off , would not even look up to heaven, saying: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Then Jesus said, “I tell you, this tax collector went down to his home justified rather than that Pharisee.”

Friends, are we the tax collector or the Pharisee?

Are we the younger son that dare going back to God whatever sins we did? Or are we the elder son, the hero, the so-called “sinless” son of God?

It’s all up to us, the choice is ours.