Few things the Prodigal Son and his big brother teach us about praying the Our Father
We say the Our Father so frequently that we tend to forget how powerful it is.
The parable of the Prodigal Son (whose story we heard today being the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C) can remind us.
The Lord’s Prayers recalls to us that we live in a wonderful place and Our Father who is in heaven has made us citizens of his Kingdom, where his will is done.
This is specifically true for those who have been baptized. As the Second Reading says in (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
When we commit sin, we are like the prodigal son, violating our father, taking what he has given us and squandering it in a non-compromising way.
When we stay with the father, doing his will as it is in heaven, we say “Give us this day our daily bread,” and trusting that God will provide for us, in his ways.
When we neglect him, and no longer do his will as it is in heaven, we find that the world is not so generous.
Things get so bad for the Prodigal Son that he has to take up tending pigs as a job which is a humiliation for a Jew. The worst of it, “he wished to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.”
Sin normally starts out promising freedom and excitement, but it ends in humiliation. The Prodigal Son begins with money and prostitutes, fulfilling his fantasies but he ends living with pigs, fantasizing about eating their food.
In fact, we are, worse than the Prodigal Son. In the other hand, we also received our inheritance early because the inheritance we have is in Jesus Christ. For in Second Reading says in (2Corinthians 5:21) “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin”. According to St. Francis, “it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.” Like the Prodigal Son, we too, we need to repent.
And we face our Father and asking for forgiveness as we say, “Forgive us our trespasses.” The man in the parable isn’t just sorry for his sins. He didn’t just declare to stop living a sinful life. But he travels back to his father where he confesses his sins and acknowledges that they had cut him off from all he had known.
For in many sins we commit, we have to do the same thing. We have to take a journey. We have to go for confession.
Next is how the Father welcomes him.
Our Father doesn’t just forgive us our sins when he hears us, but he brings us back to our full status in his family.
According to the, he gives his son a beautiful robe, a ring, and a festive banquet. And all these are symbols of the new life we receive at Baptism which are “pure, worthy, and joyful” as the Catechism says.
The Second Reading also describes this life. After he “has reconciled us to himself through Christ” he makes us “the ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”
For God makes us his own fully and he also makes us his representatives in the world.
Where the danger lies is that most often, Our Father isn’t said by prodigals; rather, it is said by religious people. The Gospel of Luke reminds us that the Prodigal Son story is addressed to the Pharisees and Scribes, not to the tax collectors and prostitutes. They have to understand that we will be forgiven only “as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”
More than one third of the story is taken up by the reaction of the older brother. The way he reacted is not at all the attitude of a son who is happy in the love of his father. But the Father reminds the older brother just how blessed he is. “You are here with me always; and everything I have is yours.”
And he is like the Israelites in the first reading.
In fact, the older brother should pray the Our Father with the same fervor as the Prodigal Son and so we should do as well. Always pray that we won’t fall into the temptation of either of them be it, the temptation to loose living, or the temptation to being “holier than thou.”
Instead, pray Our Lords prayer with gratitude for what we have been given something that we must never give away.