4th Sunday of Lent, C19
Most homilies about today’s Gospel focus on the wayward son and the generous mercy of the father. And, well they might. But most of us here at Mass today generally don’t sink to depths of the younger son and try to imitate the conduct of the father. We are more likely to be like the older son in our behavior father.
We are dutiful in our relationship with God, serving God and building God’s kingdom on earth, tilling the soil and tending the vineyard in obedience to God’s commands. But we can be resentful of those who wander off, wasting God’s gifts on their own pursuits. How do we react when we see them return at Easter and/or Christmas? With joy/ or with anger that they are sitting in “our” seat in the pews?
Are we obedient to God hopeful that we will get some reward, something equivalent to a young goat to feast on with our friends, say a surf & turf dinner in our honor with music and dancing? Or are we afraid of punishment should we step out of line? Remember the traditional Act of Contrition: “I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.” (Of course we include: “but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love”, but only after concern about ourselves!).
Do we appreciate the fact that we are already blessed with everything God has or are we spiteful that others can receive them too if only they come back and seek forgiveness? Do we pout when others join us in the practice of the faith only later in life, whining that it’s unfair for us who worked in the vineyard for hours in the heat of day and realize that they will get the same wage as we?
I sympathize with the elder son, and I confess that I am more like him than I care to admit.
How about you?