27 March 2022
Joshua 5, 9-12 + Psalm 34 + 2 Corinthians 5, 17-21 + Luke 15, 1-3-& 11-32
This homily is simply for publication here as I am serving the Maronite Parish in Tequesta, Fl this weekend.
In Luke’s typical style, we get a dramatic piece in five acts: the opening dialogue with the son’s demand, act two with the son’s disillusionment and repentance, act three with his return home, act four with the father and his older son, and act five which remains unfinished. There are four principal characters: the father, two sons, and the listeners, you and me. Each of the characters has an important role. There are really no stars in this drama unless it’s the Father whose presence and spirit seems to drive it all, but concentrating on the Father drains the story of its real message. We hardly need to be reminded that God is good, and none of us could step into that role convincingly. We know how we would likely behave. Some of us would change the locks on the house and cancel all the credit cards that the younger kid might use. Some of us would stand there like the older son with our arms folding, chin in the air, insisting on our privilege because, after all, we’re so dependable and do everything right. Some of us might want to simply remain in the crowd watching it all unfold content to stay where we are and let them work it out.
We are provided this Gospel on the Fourth Sunday in Lent as an urgent plea to find our place in this story which is so like the drama of life. If we are still under the illusion that money and pleasure will make us happy, we need to admit that there is something wrong and something always missing in this life style. It is happiness which is not the same as pleasure, and it is a sense of belonging and real identity. If we are in the place of that older son, we need to get off our pedestal and listen to our pompous and judgmental talk. That guy never even recognized the other son as his brother. There is something really wrong here. In his haughty attitude, he never even claims the father as his own. He rudely says, “You” every time he opens his mouth. If we’re standing in that crowd watching it all, we’re still not at the party which has already begun. It might be worse to be a spectator rather than be part of that family.
In any case, the party has begun, the curtain has gone up on the last act of this dramatic piece of Luke’s Gospel. It’s time for us to step out onto the stage with something to celebrate either our own homecoming or the homecoming of those who have been away. The father is waiting for us all.