The gospel reading for Mass this morning (3/3/18 – Saturday of the Second Week of Lent) is the story of the prodigal son from Luke’s Gospel. There are three people in this story, all with the freedom to choose how they live their life.
First is the younger son. He chooses to take his share of his father’s estate and to go off and live a life of dissipation. He is free to make this choice. At first, he enjoys life, doing whatever he wants but he quickly goes through all his money. He ends up working taking care of swine (pigs) and finds himself wishing he ate as good as the pigs. He then chooses to go back to his father, not to ask for forgiveness – he would have no right to expect that. He only seeks to become one of his workers who he knows are better off than he.
There is also the older son. He has always chosen in his freedom to obey his father. Yet, I ask what he based his choice on. Did he choose to obey his father to enjoy his father’s wealth? Did he do it out of a sense of obligation? Or did he really freely choose to obey his father? When his younger brother returns, he is angry that the father has welcomed his brother back. He refuses to enter his father’s house because he holds a grudge against his brother.
Then there is the father. He freely chose to give his younger son his share of the estate when he asked. When this son returns he freely chose to forgive him and welcome him back. He was under no obligation or expectation to welcome him back. In fact, social expectations of the time said the son had no right to come back. The father didn’t care. He chose to forgive. He chose to love.
Each of us has the freedom to choose. Do we choose to live in an immoral and unfaithful way, divorcing ourselves from God like the younger son at the beginning of the story? Do we choose to be like the older son, following out of obedience? Or do we choose to be like the father, loving and forgiving?