February 28, 2021
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and Sisters, Glory to Jesus Christ!
Today is the third preparatory Sunday prior to the beginning of the Great Fast, the Sunday of the Lord’s Parable of the Prodigal Son. We call it “The Prodigal Son,” but what does the word “prodigal” mean? It means someone who is living a totally dissolute life, lax in morals, degrading every aspect of human decency. A prodigal person spends and spends, buying what he or she can’t really afford, living extravagantly beyond their means, and squandering all that they have. We know people like that, right? We are people like that sometimes, right? St. John of Kronstadt says: “All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. We all see ourselves in it as in a mirror. In a few words the Lord, the knower of hearts, has shown in the person of one man how the deceptive sweetness of sin separates us from the truly sweet life according to God.”
Prodigality is one of the many lessons that we can extract from this multi-layered and multi-faceted parable. Prodigality is a passion related to the very first sin that occurred in Paradise. It begins with a lust for something which is not ours to have. Then, the sin of prodigality results when we forget that everything that we have is a gift from God. The Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord wrote: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The prodigal son wanted everything he could get from his father. He took everything, and then traveled far away from his father and squandered all of it, all of his wealth, all of his inheritance, all of his loving father’s beneficence toward him, and then…he had nothing. He was suddenly alone, his only company, pigs, illustrating his own brutish nature. He was hungry, in fact, he was starving to death. He had hit bottom, and the gaping maw of hell was ready to swallow him alive.
Then something happened. Jesus says, “he came to himself.” What does that mean? St. Theophylact says,
“The man who until now had been prodigal came to himself. This is because he was ‘outside himself,’ and had taken leave of his true self so long as he committed foul deeds. Rightly is it said that he wasted and spent all that was essential (οὐσίαν) to him. This why he was outside himself, for he who is not governed by reason/logos, but lives irrationally without reason/logos, and teaches others to do the same, is outside of himself and has abandoned his reason, which is his very essence. But when a man regains his reason/logos (αναλογίζεται), so as to see who he is and into what state of wretchedness he has fallen, then he becomes himself again, and using his reason, he comes to repent and returns from his wanderings outside reason.”
And St. Justin Popovich says,
“How did he come to himself? He came to himself through repentance. Through sin, man becomes mad, insane. Every sin, even the most seemingly insignificant one, is always an insanity of the soul. Through repentance, man comes to his senses becomes complete again, comes to himself. Then he cries out loud to God, runs to Him, and cries towards Heaven, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight’ (Luke 15:21).
Brothers and Sisters, the Great and Holy 40-Day Fast will be here in two weeks! Let’s begin to prepare ourselves to do battle against our weak nature and against “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Let us not dishonor our Heavenly Father by robbing Him and then squandering His gifts of life, grace, the Church, and even our own salvation. Let us repent and come back to ourselves, relying on the Logos - the Son of God, rather than our own reasoning. Let us flee from the insanity of sin and seek rather the warm embrace of the ever-forgiving Father. Amen.