1.Josh 5:9,10-12
2. 2Cor 5:17-21
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3,11-32

" The running Father"

There is a certain movie, whose name is Karate Kid, in that movie there are two prominent characters namely Mr. Miyage and Daniel. In that movie Mr. Miyage asked Daniel if he has good reason for wanting to learn karate.
The response from Daniel is: " Is revenge a good enough reason?" Mr. Miyage responds: " Whoever pursues revenge should dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.
In our gospel today, Jesus tells us a story of a forgiving father and two sons-one wayward and the other is self-righteous. This parable is popularly known as the parable of the prodigal Son. Some biblical scholars like call this gospel as ' gospel within the gospel.' Probably it talks much about good news of God's forgiveness.

Furthermore, this parable has been traditionally called prodigal Son parable. However, this is misleading idea because based on the meaning of the word ' prodigal  in the dictionary as lavish and overflowing, then it is reasonable enough to say that  the three figures in this parable are all prodigal in their own perspective. Why? It is because the young son is overflowing with sin, vices and ingratitude. The father is also called prodigal because he is overflowing with mercy, forgiveness and lavish in mercy and love. The older son is prodigal because he was overflowing with work and duty. He believed that by working and following the law dutifully, he could express his love for his father. Only that, he did his duty without love but only grudges and anger.

Whatever the title of the parable is what is crucial is that the parable  presents to us what God is: that He is a loving Father. We brothers and sisters if we are in a position to forgive our brothers and sisters who have often offended us, how much more our God the Father? He is the one who endlessly welcomes His prodigal children without even conditions.

One of the most startling images of God the Father in all of the Sacred Scriptures is the image of the Running Father. This is because during Jesus' time, running was not something a father, a head of a household does. A person of high social rank and high importance does not run; others run to him  to serve him or run from him to carry  out his orders. For such a person, to run would mean throwing away his dignity. It is out rightly shocking and improbable. However, that is the meaning of the running father portrayed by Jesus  in the parable of the prodigal son.

The listeners of Jesus were a bit confused when Jesus spoke about this parable telling the running father. This father was casting away his dignity courting dishonor, looking like a public fool, all for the sake of a good-for -nothing, worthless son who had maliciously wished his father dead by asking for his inheritance in advance and who had brought disgrace upon his family by his wanton lifestyle.
We human being we tend to distort the image of God right from our upbringing when we were still children. One priest in his book, What is Love, enumerated the following about what Love.

1. God is stern, angry cruel, erratic and revengeful. When a child is naughty, obstinate, and disobedient and make childish misdeeds, parents use God to strike fear on the child
2.God is easily hurt and offended. When a child has done something 'bad' parents usually  say to project their own feelings. You hurt Jesus! You offend God!
3.God is the withholder of love. If the child does not act according to the desire of the parent, he is threatened with the loss of God's love. God is presented as someone who loves us according to the way we perform our daily duties.
4. God is a policeman and an accountant of our failures. God is presented as being occupied with hostile snooping and recording merits and demerits.
5. God is a temper and a tester. God is often depicted as one who delights in sacrifice, who exacts from us countless sufferings and chastises us when we reject His will.
But Jesus teaches us that God is merciful Father who loves us with our strengths as well as our weaknesses. We will never meet success and we are in fact not exempted from tasting defeat, sorrow, anguish, disappointments, sickness and depression. We will never escape misunderstanding, rejection, enmity and irritation. But Jesus assures us that even in all of these His father's love is strong enough to sustain us as He Himself has experienced.

Theologically, the request of the young son and the response of the father are highly significant. The father is an allegorical figure of God, whereas the young son represents the tax collectors and sinners like us. The attitude of both reveals at the same nature of sin as always a desire for independence, an act of selfishness, and a will to live a life away from God.

The elder Son was a symbol for the Jews. The elder son is selfish, envious, jealous, judgmental, and his resentment demonstrates vividly his imperfections. The Jews on the other hand, believe that they are pious and clean; and faithful to the law, so they are the ones who have the right to inherit all the properties of the Father. They cannot accept that their " young prodigal brothers, and sisters," the gentiles and sinners, will be accepted back again to the community as part of the children of God. They cannot accept the fact the Father would even offer the "fatted calf" ( the Messiah) to celebrate sinners' return to the Father.

Oftentimes we are like the unforgiving son. Sometimes we are self-righteous and easy to find fault  in other people. In this year whereby it has been declared by the Holy Father, Pope Francis to be the Jubilee year of mercy, this is the time to work on that, it is the concern for every member of Catholic family to open our hearts ready to forgive our brothers and sisters who have sometimes offended us.
At times, we are also judgmental and quick to condemn. When God looks at us, he covers one eye so as not to see the ugly parts of us. But on our part when we look at other people, we open wide our eyes and we even use magnifying glasses in order to see the dirty sides of others. This is where the problem often lies. We need to learn from the heart of our Father in heaven. As Jesus invites us : ' Be merciful as your Father is merciful,' ( Lk6:36).
Finally, it is not a question of how many sins we committed or how grave our sins are. It is rather our own humility and our sincerity of saying sorry, that is what matters most.

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  1. Good Day Fr. Paul this Homily is so rich so nice it has made an impact in my life and has given be even better understanding of this reading which i have so far heard many times from diverse priests/preachers yet none saw it from this angle.May the Almighty God be with you Always as you make HIM Known to the whole World..Am glad of you.