Reflection for Vigil of the Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 5, 2016

Reading: Luke 15:11-32

By Sister Mary Teresa Morris, OSB

Sister Mary Teresa MorrisWe all know the story

We all know the characters.  Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal is oh so familiar.

It is a preferred text for penance services.  It is fair to say that this scripture passage has been the subject of numerous sessions of lectio and spiritual direction.

In the story:  Who are you?

The father: forgiving without requesting restitution. Forgiving when the contrition may or may not have been pure, or as we say, ‘perfect contrition.’ The father is a giver of mercy: a thumb on the scale in favor of mercy. 

Who are you?

The prodigal:  greedy, a failure, hitting bottom. Repentant , or cutting one’s losses hoping for some kind of chance for coming in out of the cold?  Perhaps he did have an inward turning, a conversion of morals.  The prodigal is a receiver of mercy: Fully aware of the gift that need not have been given.

Who are you?

The brother:  petulant, whining, keeping score, measuring one’s lot against another’s.  Ever ready to cry, “Foul.”  Not happy and grateful to rejoice in one’s own gifts from the father.  No, much too busy assessing the Father’s largesse to those around him.

Who are you?

I know for me: I all too often see myself as the prodigal when, in fact, I need to own up to being the brother.

A quote from Benedict:  34:6 “First and foremost, there must be no word or sign of the evil of grumbling, no manifestation of it for any reason at all.”

Who are you?  

Who can you become?

Photo of Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son