HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 15:11–32]

ON the same occasion Jesus proposed the following parable to the Jews: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said: ‘Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me.’ The father did so. Not many days after, the younger son, gathering all his property, went abroad into a far country, and there he spent his substance in riotous living.

“After he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his farm to feed swine. Here he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat.

“But entering into himself, he said: ‘How many hired servants in my father’s house have plenty of bread, and I here perish with hunger! I will arise and will go to my father, and will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee; I am not now worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants!’ Then he rose up and went to his father.

“When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran to him and fell on his neck and kissed him. But the son said: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee; I am not now worthy to be called thy son.’ And the father said to his servants: ‘Bring forth quickly the first robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: he was lost, and is found.’

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. Calling one of the servants, he asked what these things meant. The servant said: ‘Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe.’ And he was angry and would not go in. His father, therefore, coming out, began to entreat him. But he answering, said to his father: ‘Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment; and yet thou hast never given me a kid, to make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured thy substance, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.’ But the father replied: ‘Son, thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine. Yet it was fit that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.’ ”

By this beautiful parable our Blessed Lord teaches us how willing Almighty God is to receive the penitent sinner, and how rejoiced He is at his return. Our Lord describes: 1. the falling away of a sinner from God; 2. the return of the sinner to God; and 3. God’s reception of the penitent sinner.

The father in the parable signifies God; the elder son. the just; and the younger son, the sinner.

1. Man begins to fall away from God by allowing unlawful desires to take possession of his heart. In consequence, he will soon come to regard God’s commandments as so many fetters, and to long for greater licence. He loses all taste for prayer and the word of God, and imagines that he would be a happier man if he could live according to his passions. Having thus separated himself inwardly from God, an outward separation speedily follows. He renounces the friendship of good men, neglects the services of the Church and the frequenting of the Sacraments, follows his own way, and shamelessly transgresses God’s commandments. He then goes into a strange and distant land, namely further and further from God: The “far country”, says St. Augustine, “signifies the forgetfulness of God”.

Almighty God lets the sinner go his own way, for He has given to man free-will, and does not want a forced obedience, but an obedience springing from love.

In his forgetfulness of God, the sinner squanders his fortune, i. e. the natural and supernatural gifts which he has received, using his natural gifts, his health, his physical powers, and his reason, to offend God. He acts most unjustly and ungratefully towards his Creator and Benefactor, and loses the grace of God, merit, and the heirship to heaven.

The sinner, having forsaken the service of his God, falls into the servitude of Satan, and becomes the slave of his lowest passions, which are signified by the swine which the prodigal was constrained to feed. But the more he obeys his passions, the more dissatisfied does he become. No pleasure of the senses can give him happiness, and he feels a void and spiritual hunger in his heart which he is powerless to appease. He knows no rest; he only knows that he is miserable, and hateful to himself, and he bitterly tastes the truth of the words of Scripture: “Know thou, and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God” (Jer. 2:19).

2. The sinner’s conversion or return to God begins by a sincere examination of his own heart. Like the prodigal, he must enter into himself, and face the grievousness and number of his sins. He must, by the help of God’s grace, confess that his conduct has been wrong, ungrateful, and foolish, and that he is miserable simply because he has forsaken God. He must try to recall the joy and peace which were his, before he fell into sin; and he must gaze into the future, at death, judgment and eternity. Then there will rise within him a longing desire to be at peace with God, and sorrow and repentance for having ever separated himself from Him.

The prodigal son lost a great deal, but he did not lose faith in his father’s mercy, and therefore did not despair. Thus a sinner must fan the flame of his faith in God’s mercy, and the hope of forgiveness; and this faith and hope will move him to form resolutions of amendment. “I will arise and go to my father”, was the resolution made by the prodigal. This resolution was a sincere one, for he determined a) to return home and thus avoid sin and the occasions of sin; b) to humble himself, confess his sin, and obey his father; and c) to do penance by hard, servile work and self-abasement.

The prodigal’s contrition was real, interior and supernatural; therefore he hastened to cast himself humbly at his father’s feet, confess his sin, and implore his pardon. The confession of sins is the obvious and necessary expression of contrition, and is the indispensable condition of forgiveness.

3. God’s reception of the penitent sinner. The prodigal son carried out his good resolutions at once. Thus must it be with the sinner: he must not put off his conversion, but must be reconciled to God as soon as possible. And then, even as the father in the parable went to meet his son and received him lovingly, so will God meet the sinner by His merciful grace, forgive him his sins, and give him the kiss of peace. Then, by the hands of His servants (i. e. His priests), He re-clothes him with the robe of innocence, i. e. sanctifying grace, and adorns him again with the supernatural virtues befitting the state of a divine sonship (ring), and enabling him to walk justly before God (shoes). Finally, God prepares a feast for the converted sinner, giving to him the Lamb of God, for the nourishment of his soul, in Holy Communion. The Lord God rejoices and calls on all His Angels and Saints to rejoice with Him, because a man who was dead, who had lost the supernatural life of grace, and who was under the sentence of eternal death, is alive again, and is once more a child of God and an heir of heaven.

Mortal Sin. Our Lord Himself in this parable describes a sinner as one who is dead: therefore we are right in using the term “mortal” sin.

God’s incomprehensible love of penitent sinners. Though the sinner has offended Him so grievously and so often, yet He reproaches him not, but forgives him everything, and restores him to his former rights and dignity of sonship. God alone can love in this way, and to us this sort of love is inconceivable. Our Lord portrays this narrow-mindedness of ours in the conclusion of the parable. The elder son cannot understand his father’s joy; he murmurs at it, and refuses to take part in it; and even professes to believe that his father prefers the returned prodigal to himself, the faithful, obedient and industrious son. By this behaviour of the elder son our Lord signifies the jealousy of the Pharisees, who considered themselves to be just, and murmured at the deep interest which Jesus took in sinners. By the father’s answer in the parable our Lord shows how very unjustifiable any such jealousy would be. The just man ought to think of the great happiness which he has had of being always in the love and grace of God: and if he will try to realize what the infinite love of God is for every soul which He has made, he will rejoice with God as often as a soul which had been lost is found or saved. As the angels rejoice over the return of the prodigal, so ought we to rejoice over the conversion of sinners!

APPLICATION. You too have offended God, though perhaps not so grievously as did the sinner in the parable; and God has forgiven you your sins in the holy Sacrament of Penance. Have you thanked Him for this? You ought to make a devout thanksgiving each time you have been to confession. Do not repay the love of your God with fresh ingratitude.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com