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The Father's Love: Story of Two Prodigal Sons & Their Warped Image of God

Traditional Catholic Sermon | Anonymous Priest

I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.

Brethren in Christ our Lord!

We are so thankful for worshipping God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of the Ages which feeds us with the pure dogmatic Catholic Faith of the apostles, martyrs and saints - God’s word comes to us with a stunning parable perhaps the one best known in the Gospels – of the Prodigal Son.

It focuses on the relationship between two sons and their father – and therein lays the crucial importance of this parable for us in the time of Lent. Because this Holy Season is given to us to repair and heal our relationships –and the first one is with God our Father.

In the figures of the two sons we discover our own image, for in our lives, we often become lost to the Father’s love: either by rebellion – like the younger son, tempted by the illusion of anarchic freedom and self-sufficiency; or by resentment–like the older son, when we become proud and selfish, focused on ourselves and unable to love or be loved.

Jesus challenges us in this Parable to notice what these brothers had in common – why both are Prodigal Sons - they did not know their Father’s love for them.

They never realized that their Father’s joy was to share with them everything he had. And so they had a warped image of their Father; the younger son saw the father only as someone who imposes rules and limits his freedom; while to the older son, the father was a tyrannical employer who forces him to work.

Yet, this Parable is a story about us, which means that the drama of the Father’s love is also played out in our lives. In Lent our Lord wants each one of us to ask ourselves: “Do I really know the heavenly Father’s love for me? Or do I carry a twisted image of the Father in my heart and mind, and am lost to His love, like the Prodigal Sons?”

(Jesus represents the Merciful Father to the Prodigal Sons)

Remember that Jesus’ mission was all about showing us the merciful and loving face of the Father and reconciling us with Him. The questions about our image of the Father and our relationship with Him also have powerful ramifications for the Catholic Faith and Church in our time.

When so many Catholics today have a crisis of faith; when the young generation doesn’t care about the Church, it is primarily because they have such a warped image of God that they want to rebel against Him or are angry with Him. Bishop Fulton Sheen famously responded to one angry Catholic, that he was not angry at God but at his image of God which was all wrong. Such people do not know the true face of the Father; somehow no one has shown the loving God to them, or they never experienced the heavenly Father’s infinite love and mercy in their lives.

Yet, where are we to search for the causes of this dramatic situation? Not downplaying the fault of the liberal Church since the 60s, we need to look at the problem upon a wider socio-cultural background. Christ Jesus came to reveal to us God the Father and our western civilization has a tragic problem with fatherhood. In fact, social scientists now call it civilization without fathers. The issue is this: what does a religion centered on a relationship with the heavenly Father mean to a society where 50% of children grow up without a father? Pope Benedict XVI famously admitted that speaking about a loving God the Father to kids who were raised without a father at home, is often a hopeless endeavor. Moreover, our nihilistic culture deliberately promotes the destruction of marriage and family, beginning with a strike at the authority of the father; it is a camouflaged attack against God the Father.

This is why the crisis of faith is causally linked to the crisis of the family.

Raised by such nihilistic education and propaganda, young people nurture two negative attitudes toward the father figure: either rebellion - like the younger son in the Gospel, or resentment - like his older brother. And such attitudes are transferred onto God the Father.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI taught with somber clarity that reversing the process of destruction of

our western Christian culture must begin with rebuilding the authority of the father; the earthly one in the family and the Heavenly One of our Catholic faith!

Brethren in Christ our Lord, we are journeying through the Holy Season of Lent, a time given to us to repair and heal the essential relationships in our life – and the first is our relationship with God our Father. We know that if this relationship is good and sound, then the other two – with our neighbor and ourselves will also be healthy and a source of blessing in our life.

This is why at this time the Church presents to us Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, for in it our Lord reveals to us the merciful face of the heavenly Father. We are so blessed to be gathered at the altar, to worship God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time – making present the Sacrifice of the Son to the Father for our Redemption. This Holy Mass manifests to us the infinite love of the Father. In today’s world, where so many have abandoned the Faith or are angry at God - because they have never known His true face, the Gospel message offers hope that return to the Father is always possible, for His loving and merciful Heart is always open to each one of His children. May we continue our Lenten journey of metanoia when we say with trust: I will get up and go to my father. Amen.

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