It is quite common for people today to use the expression “I have to be myself,” or “Be who you are!” These expressions are related to an ancient Greek saying “Γνώθι Σ’αυτον” which is translated as “Know Yourself!” If we are to get anywhere in life, we must first know who we are “on the inside” with all honesty. Then, and only then, can we progress toward our goals in life.
Today the Church challenges us to the same goal as we prepare ourselves for the Great Lenten Journey ahead. On the Second Sunday of the Triodion, we hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We hear about a loving forgiving father and two brothers, both of whom can teach us to know ourselves better.
The younger son in the story, the Prodigal Son, took his inheritance early and wasted every last penny on sinful living. With nothing left, not even a single friend, nor food to eat, he found himself. The Gospel says, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘how many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to eat and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’” (Luke 15.17) The Prodigal Son realized that his life did not reflect his real self. He knew his father, and he knew what he had to do. So, he returned home to his father in repentance.
The older son in the story, never left home. He never left his father. He never broke a single commandment of his father. He also found himself in the story. He realized that he was always jealous of his brother, and refused to even step foot in the room where his father had set up a party to welcome his brother home after years of being away. He walked away from his father.
As we look to the Great Lenten Journey ahead, I invite you to take a moment and discover yourself, “Who am I? Who am I really on the inside? Does my life reflect the real me?” You may not like the answers you get to these questions. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, none of us will like the answers to these questions, and that is why the Church offers us this Gospel lesson today.
If we don’t like who we have become, there is a choice in front of us. We can remain where we are or return to our Father. The Prodigal Son returned and was welcomed home with open arms. God will do the same for us when we repent and turn our life around.
Even the older brother could have repented and returned to his father. It is never too late until it is too late. Make this the year you return home to your Father. Take advantage of Holy Confession and return home. The Church is waiting with open arms!