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Divine Liturgy in Stoke-on-Trent - 16.2.2014.

(Luke 15:11 – 32)

In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit !

Dear brothers and sisters,

Have you ever wondered what God is like?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus Christ tells us what God is like, for we see Him in the goodness, the love, the care, the forgiveness of the father in the story.

The story of the lost son has been called the most beautiful and meaningful of all the stories of the Gospel. But it is not a story to entertain, it is meant to teach.

Jesus said there was a man who had two sons. The younger one was unhappy at home. He thought he would be happy away from his father, away from the rules and regulations of home, away with his friends with whom he could “live it up” and rejoice. He wanted to taste the world and its joys. One day he asked his father for his share of money from the property, and shortly after the parent gave this to him, he packed his bages and left to a far country. Father was sad to see him go, but he did not stop him.

In the distant land instead of finding joy and glory, the son found pain and disgrace. The Scripture says he spent all his money “in riotous living”. When his wealth was gone, his friends were gone, to. The young man began to hunger. He got the lowest job – feeding swine in the field. He wanted to eat the food that was meant for the animals, but even this was denied to him.

One day he came to himself, he came to his senses. He sat down and looked at himself. He thought of the father’s farm with its hired servants who had daily bread aplenty. He thought of his foolishness in leaving his father. He got up and said: “I will go to my father and will say to him; Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no more worthy to be called your son; receive me as one of your hired servants”!

He wondered what sort of reception he would receive?

When he was still a great distance away, the father saw him. He had been looking down the road day by day. The old man ran to meet his son! He embraced him and kissed him. The son confessed his sin, saying: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and am no longer worthy to be called your son”.

But the father commanded his servants to bring the finest robe for the son, a ring for his finger, and shoes for his feet. And he ordered a feast to be made for this happy occasion. “For this my son was dead”, he said: “and now is alive;  he was lost and has been found”!

But the story doesn’t end there. The older son heard the music and asked what happened. He became angry when he found out that the feast was made for his lost brother who had come home. He complained to the father that he had never made a feast for him, even though he had always been good son.  But the father lovingly reminded him: “Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. It is right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead (in sin) and is alive again, he was lost, and is found”!

What a picture of God we have in this story! He is like a father to us, caring, loving, forgiving. He weeps at our sorrows and laughs with our joys.

Perhaps, we have fallen into the sin of the older son. He refuses to recognize his brother as a brother. He accused him of sin even after the father had forgiven and forgotten the sin.  He didn’t understand his father’s heart. He was guilty of Pharisaism. He couldn’t see the sin of his own life, only the sin of his brother!

To open the doors of repentance, we need the key of humility, we need to see ourselves as we really are. And we need the key of a sense of sin, because we will never repent if we feel we have nothing to be sorry for.

May God give us the grace to pray today: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee. I am no more worthy to be called Thy child …”!          

A  m  e  n  !


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