Loss, Joy, and Feast

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The WORD in other words by Fr Joseph Miras SVD — Toronto Canada

Saturday 2nd Week of Lent

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One way of looking at this parable is through the lens of loss, joy, and feasting. The father lost his ‘life’ (properties, possessions) when he divided them between his two sons. Normally, the father was supposed to give two-thirds of his properties to the eldest and one third to the younger one. The second son lost his dignity when he demanded his inheritance and left his father. The older son lost his credibility when he grumbled and complained to his father about the treatment he got when despite his obedience and subservience to the Father, he never got the same festal treatment from the Father. All of them experienced losses.

There was a lot of joy when the father saw his younger son came back to them. He was overjoyed and prepared a feast for him. The younger was happy when he saw his father welcoming him back with open arms and without any words of blame but only of love and joy. The elder son, however, was unaffected though curious. He returned home and saw that everyone was busy preparing for the feast, and he must have stayed only at the back but still within the family property (ultimately still owned by the father). 

The father ordered his servants to make a feast to celebrate the return of the younger son, and everybody became busy, happily obliging to the order of the father. The younger son joined the feasting because it was in his honor. Everyone celebrated his return. 

The elder, though present, stood only in the background and never joined. The elder son inquired from one of their servants instead of directly asking his father what the event was all about. He who, despite being “in” (within the family home with everybody celebrating), was actually “out.” He stayed at a “distance.” He was “lost” in the sense that he let himself “out.”

The elder son was lost because there was an absence of involvement on his part to the joy and the feast going on. The father came out and pleaded with him. The elder son was lost because he begrudged the goodness of his father. The father had to assure him that he got everything the father had. The elder son was lost because, after all, he also wanted to get a piece of inheritance but couldn’t say/do it properly. The elder son was lost because of his inability to receive the father’s gift. One can only wait for God’s gift. The waiting continues. 

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