Daily Gospel Reflection – Saturday of the Second Week in Lent
Bishop Robert Barron
March 11, 2023
Saturday of the Second Week in Lent
Gospel: Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
"A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."' So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'"
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, at the core of today’s Gospel is a portrait of our God, who is prodigal. The father stands for the God whose very nature is to give, the God who simply is love. And the younger son stands for all of us sinners who tend to misunderstand how to access the divine love.
Since God exists only in gift form, his life, even in principle, cannot become a possession. Instead, it is "had" only on the fly, only in the measure that it is given away. When we cling to it, it disappears, according to a kind of spiritual physics.
The Greek that lies behind "distant country" in the parable is chora makra; that means, literally, "the great emptiness." Trying to turn the divine gift into the ego’s possession necessarily results in nothing, nonbeing, the void.
St. John Paul II formulated the principle here as "the law of the gift"—that your being increases inasmuch as you give it away. If clinging and possessing are the marks of the chora makra, then the law of the gift is the defining dynamic of the father’s house, where the robe and the ring and the fatted calf are on permanent offer.