Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook


Father Muench Says...

A look at the Prodigal Son

March 30, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Lenten Masses are filled with the parables of Jesus. As you know, these parables are stories that Jesus cleverly crafted to teach the apostles and the people of all time. It is important for you to remember that the parables of Jesus are always about us. So, it is important that we find ourselves in the parables of Jesus.

Each year on Laetare Sunday, the Gospel reading is one of my favorite parables of Jesus: the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This parable is often used as the Scripture reading at Lenten Penance Services. Many like to name this parable as the Parable of the forgiving, loving father. Let us see why.

I am certain you will remember the story. This father has two sons. The younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance now. In Jesus’ story, the father agrees, and the son leaves home and begins to live a very decadent life. He ends up moneyless and also tending swine – not a good job for a Jew.

As Jesus’ story goes on, this younger son comes to his senses and decides to return home and admit to his father that he was wrong and asks to be a hired hand. As the younger son heads up the road to his father’s place, we are surprised to learn that the father sees him coming and runs out to welcome him. I suspect if this were my story, I would make the father much more demanding. But this is Jesus’ story. He tells us that the father welcomes his son and has a banquet prepared as well as a party. The father does not demand anything from this son.

For those who see themselves in this story as the younger son – those who have rejected God and gone off on their own – Jesus wants to teach them that God our Father will always welcome them back freely and with understanding, and in love with care as they repent and seek God’s acceptance. This is God’s message for us to pass on to others.

There is more to Jesus’ parable. The older son comes home from the fields and is upset to learn of this celebration because his brother has returned. He refuses to enter the house and welcome his brother home. In Jesus’ story, the caring, loving father is again the one who comes out of the house to speak with the older son and try to make peace with him. Again, it is the father who accepts this opportunity to bring his love to his sons.
In Jesus’ story here is what the father says to the older son: “My son you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again, he was lost and has been found.”

Here is where the story of Jesus ends. I would hope in the spirit of Our Savior that I could finish the story with the older son realizing the love and forgiving spirit of his father and agreeing to join him and welcome his brother home.

In our time, I believe Jesus is teaching those who have remained faithful and united closely with God but seem to find it annoying and maybe unacceptable when those who have deserted the Lord but then are welcome openly and lovingly when they repent. May we remember well the Father’s message to the older son in Jesus’ story and rejoice that our brother or sister has returned.

These parables of Jesus are such a gift. These stories teach the message of Jesus is such a beautiful way.

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.