Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), 27 March, 2020: Joshua 5:9-12; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
After decades of listening to today’s Gospel, I have some questions.
Has the absence of a mother in this family had a serious impact on them? Did this father wonder whether his younger son demands his inheritance because he’s unbalanced by the loss of his mother? Does his immature son just want to get away from a home that seems so empty without her?
Is his father doing a bad imitation of a mother by acquiescing to his son’s request? I imagine that a mother experienced in running a large household—and their home seems prosperous and well run—would never indulge a foolish request. Her husband, however, makes a bad decision detrimental to their son and his future.
At the end of the parable, might this not be the first time that this prodigal father ever told his elder son how much he values him? No wonder he resents his younger brother.
And the lack of any mention of the absent mother, might that suggest that none of them had owned their sorrow at her passing? In some gruff masculine way, had they just pushed on with life, never allowing themselves to feel the pain?
If any of this could be true, we have a parable of mistakes and misfortunes shaking this family’s complacency, allowing God to rework their web of foolishness into their healing.
Now there are grounds for rejoicing and gratitude! And a story we know from experience: vulnerability acknowledged opens the floodgates of divine mercy and greater growth towards God.