In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32), Jesus tells us of the journey of the youngest son of a father, who wants to go out on his own. He demands to collect his inheritance early and strikes out on his own. His father, loving and supportive, allows his son to leave the safety and comfort of home. Aside from the demand for an early inheritance, many of us can relate to, and maybe even admire, the courage of a young man going out on his own. But that is where the story takes a turn for the worse.
The young man took his inheritance and, “journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” (Luke 15.13) After losing everything he possessed, he was left to eat pig slop, “and no one gave him anything.” (Luke 15.16) All those he knew in this far country were no help in his pain. He was suffering from some very poor choices. Jesus said, “He came to himself,” (Luke 15.17) and chose to return to his father, not as a son, but as a servant. At least he would have food in his stomach and a roof over his head.
This young man expressed humility by returning to his father, and his father “ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15.20) He had been welcomed back to the family and FULLY restored to his original place in the family. The young man’s humility gave him not just a roof and food, but a family and a home.
This man represents each of us and the choices we make in life. Many times we find ourselves suffering from the poor choices we make, and none of our friends helps us. It only takes the willingness to humble ourselves, admit our poor choices through Holy Confession, and we will be FULLY restored by Christ to His family – The Church! We will not receive simply food and a roof, but we will have Communion with God in Heaven! We don’t have to remain with the pigs, when our Father welcomes us home.
If the youngest son had remained away, he would have kept suffering. If we choose to remain in our stubborn choices, we will also continue to suffer. To help us the Church offers us the Mystery of Holy Confession. It is a mystery, because we don’t know how God takes our suffering and pain, and removes our guilty conscience ‘just because’ we stand with the priest in the Church. But God does just that.
To help you come back from the choices that bring you suffering, Fr Athanasios is available every Friday from 3-6pm in the Chapel for the Mystery of Holy Confession. You don’t need an appointment. You only need to choose to come back.