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  • Bill Samsonoff
    THE SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON Today, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we call to remembrance the noble parable that is in the Holy Gospel according to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2004
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      Today, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we call to remembrance the noble
      parable that is in the Holy Gospel according to the Apostle Luke.

      There are people, as they live prodigally from their youth, who observe in
      themselves many improper things. Spending their time in drunkenness and
      wantonness, they have fallen into a depth of wickedness and reached
      despair, which is a result of pride. Yet they do not wish to engage in the
      pursuit of virtue because, as they say, their evils are very many. And so
      they continually fall into the same and worse evils. For this reason, in
      their paternal and loving care for such people, the Holy Fathers placed
      this parable on this day, wishing to save them from despair, and by showing
      God's forbearance and plenteous goodness, they aim to entirely uproot such
      passions of prodigality from sinners' hearts and to inspire them to take up
      a virtuous life again. The Fathers' purpose is to show, through this
      parable of Christ, that there is no sin whatsoever that can prevail over
      His love for mankind.

      The Father in this parable represents God, the Lover of Mankind. The two
      sons are the two kinds of men, righteous and sinners. The elder son is he
      who always persevered in God's commandments and in what is good and never
      rebelled against Him in any way. The younger son is he who yearned for sin
      and rejected life with God through his shameful acts and wasted God's
      loving care for him, living prodigally. For he did not preserve intact what
      was created in him according to God's image, following as he did the wicked
      demon, through sinful pleasures serving the demon's whims, unable to
      satisfy his lust. For sin is an insatiable thing, using habit to lure one
      by means of what gives temporary pleasure. Hence, He [Christ] compares sin
      to the carob pod, being as it is feed for swine. The carob pod at first
      tastes sweet, but afterwards it leaves a tough pulp in the mouth, which are
      the same properties of sin. (See Luke 15: 11-17.)

      Scarcely does the prodigal son come to his senses, perishing as he is from
      the famine of virtue, than he goes to his Father, saying, "Father, I have
      sinned against heaven and in your sight, and I am no longer worthy to be
      called Your son" (Luke 15:21). The Father accepts him in repentance and
      does not chide, but displays His divine and paternal compassion by
      enfolding him in His embrace. He gives him a "garment," Holy Baptism, and
      as a "seal and token" the grace of the All-Holy Spirit. Furthermore He
      gives him "footwear" so that his footsteps according to God will no longer
      be smitten by snakes and scorpions, but rather he will be able to tread on
      their heads. Then, in the height of joy, the Father sacrifices for him the
      "fatted calf," His only-begotten Son, and He allows him to partake of the
      "flesh and blood," the Savior's Holy Communion. (See Luke 15:22-23.)

      Even though marveling at his Father's super-infinite compassion, the elder
      son does not enter into the common joy because he cannot comprehend his
      Father's loving generosity. But the humane Father stops him, responding
      calmly with kind and gentle words: "You are always with Me, and it is
      fitting to be glad and to rejoice with your Father. For this son of Mine
      was dead in sin, and he has been revived by repenting over what he
      committed contrary to reason. He was lost, for he was far removed from Me
      through his addiction to sinful pleasures. He was found through Me who
      co-suffered out of kindred love for him, calling him back to Myself out of
      compassion." (See Luke 15:31-32.) This parable can also be understood in
      reference to the Jewish people and to us.

      For this reason, this parable was placed here by the Holy Fathers. It
      uproots the despair and faintheartedness to engage in good deeds and it
      exhorts anyone who has sinned like the prodigal son to repentance, which is
      indeed a very great shield that averts the enemy's arrows and a mighty
      means of defense.

      The parable also teaches us that we should not be troubled when sinners
      repent and are received by God when we ourselves are struggling, with God's
      help, to live a life of righteousness. We must not judge our neighbor's
      life - that belongs to God alone - nor God's bountiful mercy, but we must
      rejoice with Heaven when a sinner returns to the Father.

      Thus, as we continue through this preparatory period, the teachings on
      humility and repentance appropriately prepare us to proceed with a contrite
      spirit further into the great season of compunction.

      O Christ our God, through Your unutterable love for mankind,
      have mercy on us and save us.
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