As the High Holy Days draw near, this Sunday of the “Second Scrutiny” of the catechumens revolved entirely around the theme of light and seeing things truthfully. This problem is at the heart of what almost all ancients saw as the “tragic sense of life.” Our lack of self-knowledge and our lack of wisdom make humans do very stupid and self-destructive things. Because humans cannot see their own truth very well, they do not read reality very well either. We all have our tragic flaws and blind spots. Humans always need more “light” or enlightenment about themselves and about the endless mystery of God.
|Friends, our Gospel today is Jesus’ best-known parable, and perhaps the greatest story ever told. It tells us practically everything we need to know about our relationship to God, if we but attend to the details carefully.
The younger son asks for his share of the estate and quickly squanders it in a faraway land—and so it always goes. We are the children of God; we have been given life, being, everything by him; we exist through him at every moment. What is represented here so vividly is the moment of sin, which means rupture or division.
So he was forced to hire himself out so as to become a feeder of pigs. And no one gave him anything. Coming to his senses at last, he decides to break away and return to his father.
The father sees him from a long way off, and then, throwing respectability to the wind, he comes running out to meet him. The Bible is not the story of our quest for God, but of God’s passionate, relentless quest for us. He put a ring on his son’s finger—the ring of marriage, symbolizing the reestablishment of a right relationship between us and God.
Reflect: When has the forgiveness you received from someone else made you joyful?