Come to yourself!—Sunday of the Prodigal Son

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

A key phrase in today’s Gospel, my brothers and sisters, is when the Lord says of the prodigal, “But when he came to himself.”  He was living in the lowest state manageable, with pigs, unclean according to the Law of Moses; and he was not himself.  He had left the abundance of the Father’s house and, like Adam before him, thought he could act alone: Adam did this by eating the fruit, the one action which was not a glorification of God but an act of rebellion, and the younger son by departing the Father’s house.

I, on the other hand, do my best to make a comfortable life in the pigsty.  I set to work to create a home in the sty, perform work in the sty, have family and friends in the sty.  I do all I can to make the best of the situation in which I find myself.  And I surround myself with so many distractions I have even forgotten the Father’s house: I see myself as a citizen of the sty rather than a son and heir of our Father’s house, the Kingdom of God.  I am not myself, I have a feeling that something is not right, yet the cares of this life hold me back.

And the Church is calling out to you, and she is calling out to me, “Come to yourself!  Do not be satisfied with life in this sty: remember the Father’s House.”  For in the household of God we are fed not with what perishes but with eternal life: “How many of my father’s hired servants,” the prodigal asks himself, “have bread enough and to spare.”  For the bread of the Father’s House is the Bread of the Kingdom—Jesus Christ himself—and in eating this Bread even if we die we shall not die (see John 6:35ff).

Come to yourself, my brothers and sisters!  For if we come to ourselves and rise up from the sty of this world the Lord is looking for us and will run out to meet us: he is ever watchful.  And we may return to the glory we have lost.  All of us, in whatever state we are, whatever our actions, our sins and transgressions, may rise from this sty as did the prodigal and return to the Father’s House.

Once we return, once we have set aside our prodigal living, we must be careful to keep it: for all too easily we may become jealous at the return of others.  And we see someone who does not meet the standards we have set being forgiven and entering into the feast, as the older brother we look down on the salvation of another and stand outside the House, stand outside the Kingdom, and complain.  And the Lord tells the older brother, as he would tell us, “all that is mine is yours.”  But we must accept it, rejoice in it, for no one is forced into the Kingdom of God.  We can stand in self-righteousness outside the Kingdom, proud of ourself, or we can humble ourself alongside all who return to the Father’s House and accept the love of God, and the love of others, in our hearts.

My dear brothers and sisters, come to yourselves!  Accept the forgiveness God grants to you and the forgiveness he grants to all, that we may rejoice together in the heavenly banquet where we may feed on life eternally.

To Jesus Christ our God, the Bread of Life, be all glory, honour and might, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Brethren, “all things are lawful for me, ” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me, ” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” — and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one flesh.” But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God.
— 1 Corinthians 6:12–20

The Lord said this parable: “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his belly with the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”
— Luke 15:11–32