Bulletin 216 - February 10/February 23, 2003
February 10/23, 2003
Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Then He said: A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf with him.' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'
The Sunday of the Prodigal Son is upon us. The Holy Orthodox Church brings the Sunday of the Prodigal Son to us each year. We need to return to God repeatedly.
We depart on too many occasions from the path taken at Holy Baptism. Repentance is a necessary part of the Christian life. Renewal in Christ is an essential part of the Christian life. Return to God is an essential part of the Christian life.
The battle against sin is a daily battle. Remaining focused on God twenty-four hours per day and giving glory and thanksgiving to God continually are desirable goals. Being united in Christ in ways that provide peace and wholeness and the joy of Christ are desirable goals.
Christ enables us to succeed in the battle against sin. Only through Christ can sin be overcome. When we fall, Christ helps us to get up.When we get up, let us remember that we rise through Christ and stand only because of Christ.
Despondency and despair have no place in the life of Orthodox Christians. Christ rose from the dead and brought hope for all believing in Him. Discouragement yields to the Resurrected Christ. The light of Christ provides the pathway from the darkness of sin to the joy of the Resurrection.
The prodigal son squandered his inheritance. He wasted the life given him by God. When he came to himself, he returned home. The son who was once considered dead was alive again.
When we sin and remain in sin, we squander our Christian life. We waste... we destroy the life we have in Christ. The Sunday of the Prodigal Son requires us to consider our own sinfulness. The Sunday of the Prodigal Son reminds us of failure to remain true to Christ every moment of everyday.
We committed ourselves completely to Christ at baptism. We are to give ourselves to Christ completely each day. "With God all things are possible." (Mk.10:27)
The approach of Great Lent is gradual in the Holy Orthodox Church. The Church moves toward Great Lent with certainty. The Church moves toward Great Lent day by day.
Great Lent is to be welcomed. Great Lent is a time of great preparation, of great renewal. The joy of Christ is experienced in Christ. There is no substitute for Christ. There is no substitute for the life in Christ.
The returning son experienced the goodness of his father. He experienced the love of the father for the returning son. When we return to God, when we come to ourselves and realized the degree of sinfulness in our lives and seek a better life in Christ, we experience the love of Christ, the forgiveness that comes from Christ.
God knows when repentance is real. God knows when the heart yearns for the life in Christ. God knows when the sinner wants to reject sin and embrace the life in Christ.
The Holy Orthodox Church around the world summons sinners to return to Christ. The Holy Orthodox Church around the world proclaims the message of Christ illumined in the parable of the prodigal son.
While there is time, let us repent. While there is time, let us return to God. While there is time, let us be faithful to our baptismal commitment.
The joy of the Risen Christ awaits the returning sinner. The love and forgiveness found only in Christ awaits the man or woman, boy or girl who have gone to a far country and now want to come home to Christ.
While there is time, let us make the best use of the time and devote our lives completely to Jesus Christ.