Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON
Friends, today is the second Sunday of the Great Lent, which is known as “Prodigal Sunday” or “The Sunday of the Prodigal Son.” The name is taken from the parable of the Prodigal Son, which our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son as a whole is considered to be a wise masterpiece amongst short stories. Only our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows the human heart, can describe so well the journey of repentance and the path for return to life. In this story, Christ describes the passions and desires of the young man who departs from his father’s home and finds himself in extreme poverty after throwing away his inheritance. He slips into desperation, living in squalor and eating from the pods of the pig.
Then our Lord Jesus Christ tells us how the young man’s recollection of his former glorious life becomes the guide that leads him to the path that would allow him to return home. Christ also describes the father’s joy and his acceptance of his son with open arms. All of this encompasses the journey of our spiritual life. The glorious coat, ring, and feast all symbolize the eternal joy that fills the new and holy divine life. This life is offered to all those who belong to God and return to His family, in the arms of the Church.
This parable is not strictly a story of repentance. This parable is particularly a story about the compassion of God the Father and His steadfast love. In studying the Holy Scriptures — Asdvadzashunch, we learn of God’s character as peaceful. He does not hurry, nor does He rush to do things, because both time and eternity are His. Therefore, there is an important insight for us to discern and discover in this parable. Here we observe a symbol of God the Father hastening towards his son. For the first time in this story, we see God hastening. Our Lord Jesus says, “But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).
Certainly, the father ran towards his son, knowing that if someone else encountered his son first, he might have shamed the son, or accused him of throwing his family’s reputation away, or removed him from the house. The Father runs towards his son because of His love for His son, and He was filled with joy for his son, “who was lost and now he has been found.” It is here where our Lord Jesus Christ reveals the greatness of God’s love — His fervent compassion for His children.
Because of sin we have distanced ourselves from our true home: God’s fatherly presence. However, as we learn in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it is not important how many steps we have taken away from our God. The path to return to Him requires only one step, and then our heavenly Father with great love hastens towards us, embraces us, and grants us a place in His family.