Third Sunday of Eastertide – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 17 avril 2021

Thus it is written that Christ would suffer, that on the third day he would rise from the dead

Third Sunday of Eastertide - Year B dans Homélies ce1700a6e1e69a289bb75f9fe9b8e627

# Jesus advises the apostles on their mission not to take money or other possessions with them and, when they arrive at their destination, to find out who can be trusted and ask for hospitality. If they are not welcome, Jesus asks them to leave by shaking the dust from their feet, a symbolic gesture signifying the breaking off of impure contact. The Gospel of Matthew establishes that the mission of the Twelve is reserved for the Israelites, that is, those who know the promises of God, to the exclusion of the Gentiles and the Samaritans, who are equal to the Gentiles.

The mission of the apostles will only be extended to all nations after Jesus’ resurrection. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus asks the apostles to wear only sandals and a staff, while in Matthew’s Gospel he asks them to wear nothing, neither sandals nor staff; likewise, Luke’s Gospel asks them not to wear a staff, while sandals are not mentioned. According to some commentators, Mark’s version is the original version because it is consistent with Eastern tradition and the situation on the ground. The sandals and staff were the equipment of shepherds travelling with the flock and were necessary for walking on the impenetrable and stony roads of Palestine at that time.

# The Great Mission or Universal Mission is an instruction given by Jesus of Nazareth to eleven of his twelve apostles after his resurrection. In this episode, recounted in the last five verses of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee and asks them to baptise  » in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit  » all the nations of the world.

This passage follows the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Élian Cuvillier noted that it contains no call to God’s judgement: the sending out on mission and the welcoming of new disciples outweighs any notion of sin or retribution.

The mission is placed under the sign of the Trinity, reminiscent of Christ’s baptism, where the Spirit descended on Jesus at the moment when the divine voice established the filial relationship with the Father. Matthew’s Gospel is characterised by a permanent duality between Jewish particularism and universalism.

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From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. Luke

The disciples returned from Emmaus and told the eleven apostles and their companions what had happened on the way and how the Lord had revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still talking about it, he stood among them and said to them : « Peace be with you! « And they were terrified and afraid; they thought they had seen a ghost.
Jesus said to them : « Why are you so angry ? And why do these thoughts arise in your hearts ? Look at my hands and feet. It is me! Touch me, look at me : a ghost has no flesh and no bones, as you see what I have done. «   After this word, he showed them his hands and feet. In their joy, they did not yet dare to believe it, and they were amazed.

Jesus said to them: « Do you have anything to eat here ?  « And they brought him a piece of fried fish, which he took and ate before them. Then he said to them : « These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you: everything that is written in my name must be fulfilled, everything that is written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms. »
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them :  » So it is written that Christ will suffer, …that he will rise from the dead on the third day…, …and that repentance will be proclaimed in his name…for the forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. It is up to you to be witnesses to this  » (Lk 24, 35-48).

Jesus Christ changes those who encounter him

While the disciples were telling their companions what had happened on the road to Emmaus and how they had recognised Jesus when he broke the bread, Jesus himself was standing among them. He said to them : « Peace be with you » (Lk 24, 36). In their joy, they did not dare believe him and were amazed. But Jesus was sensitive to his still unbelieving disciples ; he came to them and showed them his hands and feet marked by the nails of suffering.

He insisted :  » It is really me. Touch me. »  The hands and feet he shows us today are those of all his brothers and sisters wounded by wars and hatred.  To convince his disciples that he was alive and well, he asked them  :  » Do you have anything to eat ?  »  They offered him a piece of grilled fish. He took it and ate before their eyes. Through the mouth of all the hungry of the earth, he says to us again and again :  » Do you have anything to eat ?  « 

What is striking here is that Jesus takes the first steps. He himself provokes the encounter, he takes the initiative, he helps to recognise :  » Look at my hands and my feet.  » The encounter with the risen Christ changes the disciples like those on the road to Emmaus. At first they were afraid, but now they are witnesses. And we, when we come to church, do we have a real encounter with the risen Jesus that transforms us ? The history of the Church tells us how many men and women were changed by their encounter with Christ.

Sometimes it was a sudden shock, a sudden conversion : St Paul, St Augustine, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Teresa of Avila, Charles de Foucauld… These encounters lead to a daily relationship that transforms life. Jesus offers himself to me every morning and every evening in the hour of personal or family prayer, every Sunday in the Eucharist to hear his word, to receive his offering and his body.

Is this a real encounter with the risen Jesus waiting for me? If my parish church is open, with a lamp telling me that He is there, in the tabernacle, available for an encounter in the intimacy of silence, why should I not take advantage of it ? Listening and reading the Word of God is also a privileged way to enter into a relationship with Jesus. However it happens, the encounter with the Risen Lord widens the heart and changes us.

 » They are the witnesses. »  These words of Jesus define the mission of the apostles. The witness must pass on what he has seen and heard in order to awaken a response of faith. This Sunday, the fourth day of the Easter season, is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, an opportunity to call upon Jesus once again to be his witness in some way. Today in this Gospel Jesus reminds us :  » You are the witnesses ! « 

How we live according to the Gospel, how we let peace and love flourish around us, in our families, at work, is a witness. To participate in the Eucharist on Sunday is to live the Passover, a true resurrection. To be a witness also means to speak out when necessary, as Peter exhorts us :  » Always be ready to give reasons for your hope to those who ask you. But do it with gentleness and respect…  » (1 P 3, 15).

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Father Hanly   :  click here to read the paprer → Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B 

◊ Pathways to God    :  click here to read the paprer → Third Sunday of Easter Year B

Video Fr. Hahn : « Third Sunday of Easter (Year B) « 

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Publié dans Homélies, La messe du dimanche, Religion, Temps pascal | Pas de Commentaire »

Cinquième Dimanche de Carême — Année B

Posté par diaconos le 16 mars 2021

   Si le grain tombé en terre ne meurt pas

     Si le grain de blé qui est tombé en terre ne meurt...

# La kénose est une notion de théologie chrétienne exprimée par un mot grec, κένωσις, « action de vider, de se dépouiller de toute chose » ; le sens de cette notion dans le christianisme s’éclaire par l’Épître de Paul aux Philippiens (Ph 2,6) Cette notion a suscité de nombreux développements d’une théologie qui insiste beaucoup sur l’abaissement de Dieu. Par amour, Dieu se dépouille de ses autres attributs divins comme la toute-puissance, la gloire, l’impassibilité, la perfection, l’auto-suffisance, la Providence qui gouverne le monde.

La théologie de la kénose aborde le mystère du mal en affirmant que c’est d’abord Dieu qui souffre et non l’homme : « Mais non, Dieu ne permet jamais le mal, il en souffre, il en meurt, il en est d’abord la victime ». La théologie de la kénose est formalisée par les Pères de l’Église, et s’inscrit dans les débats christologiques des premiers conciles. Ainsi, la kénose n’atteint pas la nature divine du Christ, mais seulement son humanité. Pour Paul de Tarse, la théologie de la kénose affirme que l’incarnation du Verbe correspond à un renoncement aux privilèges divins usuels : Dieu n’est qu’Amour et les attributs de Dieu ne sont que les attributs de l’Amour. Pour Moltmann, un Dieu qui n’est que tout-puissant est un être imparfait.

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Évangile de Jésus Christ selon saint Jean

En ce temps-là, il y avait quelques Grecs parmi ceux qui étaient montés à Jérusalem pour adorer Dieu pendant la fête de la Pâque. Ils abordèrent Philippe, qui était de Bethsaïde en Galilée, et lui firent cette demande : « Nous voudrions voir Jésus. » Philippe va le dire à André, et tous deux vont le dire à Jésus.
Alors Jésus leur déclare : « L’heure est venue où le Fils de l’homme doit être glorifié. Amen, amen, je vous le dis : si le grain de blé tombé en terre ne meurt pas, il reste seul ; mais s’il meurt, il porte beaucoup de fruit.
Qui aime sa vie la perd ; qui s’en détache en ce monde la gardera pour la vie éternelle. Si quelqu’un veut me servir, qu’il me suive ; et là où moi je suis, là aussi sera mon serviteur.
Si quelqu’un me sert, mon Père l’honorera. Maintenant mon âme est bouleversée. Que vais-je dire ? “Père, sauve-moi de cette heure” ?  Mais non ! C’est pour cela que je suis parvenu à cette heure-ci ! Père, glorifie ton nom ! »
Alors, du ciel vint une voix qui disait : « Je l’ai glorifié et je le glorifierai encore. » En l’entendant, la foule qui se tenait là disait que c’était un coup de tonnerre.
D’autres disaient : « C’est un ange qui lui a parlé. » Mais Jésus leur répondit : « Ce n’est pas pour moi qu’il y a eu cette voix, mais pour vous. Maintenant a lieu le jugement de ce monde ; maintenant le prince de ce monde va être jeté dehors ; et moi, quand j’aurai été élevé de terre, j’attirerai à moi tous les hommes. » Il signifiait par là de quel genre de mort il allait mourir.» (Jn 12, 20-33)

Nous voulons voir Jésus

  Nous voudrions voir Jésus. » C’est la demande faite par des grecs au lendemain du dimanche des rameaux. Ces gens sont des sympathisants de la religion juive montés à Jérusalem pour la fête de la Pâque. Ils ont entendu parler de son entrée triomphale à Jérusalem. Alors ils partent à la recherche des disciples et ils finissent par trouver Philippe. Ils s’approchent de lui et ils lui font part de leur plus cher désir : voir la gloire de celui dont tout le monde chante les louanges. Ils désirent le voir, oui d’accord, mais cette gloire qu’ils sont invités à accueillir c’est celle d’un crucifié… . Ils verront la mort de celui qui est l’auteur de la vie, un homme élevé au-dessus de tous, cloué sur une croix. Ce Jésus élevé de terre connaîtra la gloire puisqu’il attirera tous les hommes à lui.

  »Nous voudrions voir Jésus. » Voilà bien une phrase merveilleuse qui monte de chaque cœur désirant Dieu. Jésus s’adresse à chacun de nous aujourd’hui. Nous aussi, nous voulons voir Jésus. Jésus nous fait comprendre une chose très importante : nous le rencontrerons là où nous ne pensions pas le trouver. Il reste toujours visible mais sous des traits que nous n’avions pas imaginés. Il est dans ce malade que nous allons visiter sur son lit d’hôpital ; il est cet homme licencié sans raison, ce prisonnier avec qui on reste en contact, cette personne victime de la calomnie et de la rumeur. Tout ce que nous faisons pour le plus petit d’entre les siens, c’est à lui que nous le faisons.

 Avec Jésus, les valeurs sont renversées. L’humiliation devient grandeur. L’échec devient le triomphe. L’instrument de torture le plus dégradant de l’époque devient la croix glorieuse. Nous voyons en elle un symbole éclatant de l’amour. Cette croix est présente dans nos églises, mais aussi à la croisée des chemins et au sommet des collines. En la regardant, nous y découvrons la glorification d’un amour qui dépasse tout ce que nous pouvions imaginer.

 Mais « voir » Jésus ne suffit pas. Il attend de nous que nous le suivions et que nous l’imitions. C’est un appel qui revient souvent dans les évangiles : prendre sa croix et suivre Jésus. Le chemin du Christ est une descente à rapide. C’est exactement l’opposé de ce que conseillent les hommes.

 Nous vivons dans un monde qui donne une grande place à l’argent, au pouvoir et à la bonne situation. Mais quand Jésus cherche l’homme, il descend dans l’incarnation et se fait esclave. Il descend parmi les hommes et se fait le dernier. C’est ainsi qu’il nous invite à le suivre jusque dans sa mort pour avoir part à sa résurrection.

 Suivre Jésus c’est aussi souffrir aux côtés de nos frères les hommes, aux côtés de ceux et celles qui vivent dans le désespoir. Il nous invite aussi à rejoindre ceux et celles qui s’engagent dans la lutte contre la misère.

 En résumé, il nous faut retrouver le sens évangélique de « charité » : aimer, être à l’écoute de l’autre, rendre service, partager, être attentif aux plus pauvres.

 Chaque dimanche, nous célébrons l’Eucharistie en communion avec toute l’Église qui a reçu pour mission de nous conduire à Jésus. En nous envoyant pour témoigner de son amour et de l’espérance qu’il met en nous, Jésus nous rappelle qu’il est avec nous tous les jours jusqu’à la fin du monde. Prions le, ensemble, pour qu’il nous donne force et courage en vue de la mission qu’il nous confie.

Diacre Michel Houyoux

Liens avec d’autres sites web chrétiens

◊ Père Gilbert Adam : cliquez ici pour lire l’article →5e dimanche de Carême, année B
◊ Le site de l’Abbé Pascal   : cliquez ici pour lire l’article → Cinquième dimanche de Carême année B

   Lectio Divina sur le cinquième dimanche de Carême de l’année B

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Publié dans Carême, Homélies, La messe du dimanche, Page jeunesse, Religion | Pas de Commentaire »

Samedi de la troisième Semaine de Carême

Posté par diaconos le 13 mars 2021

Le publicain était devenu un homme juste, plutôt que l’autre

Audience du Pape : quelle miséricorde chez le pharisien?, le site de  L'Homme Nouveau

Parabole du pharisien et du publicain

# Le Pharisien et le Publicain est une parabole transmise par Jésus-Christ dans l’Évangile selon Luc. Elle aborde les sujets de la justice et de l’humilité. Dans le domaine de l’exégèse biblique, elle fait partie du Sondergut de cet évangile. Pour le docteur de l’ÉgliseJean Chrysostome, dans son homélie n°2 sur la conversion, justice et humilité sont les deux valeurs défendues par Jésus-Christ dans cette parabole. L’archevêque se place en personne critique envers le pharisien et clame : « Misérable sois-tu, toi qui oses porter un jugement sur la terre… As-tu encore besoin de condamner ce publicain… Que de suffisance dans ces paroles !… Pourquoi manifester un tel orgueil ? ». Jean Chrysostome conclut : « Et, pour avoir fait preuve d’humilité, il (le publicain) a été justifié… (et) le publicain s’en allait, le cœur renouvelé d’une justice retrouvée… » .

Le dimanche du Pharisien et du Publicain est une célébration des Églises orthodoxes et Églises catholiques de rite byzantin qui a lieu dix semaines avant Pâques et marque le débute du cycle liturgique pascal du rite orthodoxe La parabole du Pharisien et du Publicain célèbre l’humilité, l’ouverture aux autres et à la Grâce divine ; elle débute la période du petit carême.

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De l’Évangile de Jésus Christ selon saint Luc

En ce temps-là, à l’adresse de certains qui étaient convaincus d’être justes et qui méprisaient les autres, Jésus dit la parabole que voici : « Deux hommes montèrent au Temple pour prier. L’un était pharisien, et l’autre, publicain (c’est-à-dire un collecteur d’impôts). Le pharisien se tenait debout et priait en lui-même : “Mon Dieu, je te rends grâce parce que je ne suis pas comme les autres hommes – ils sont voleurs, injustes, adultères, ou encore comme ce publicain.
Je jeûne deux fois par semaine et je verse le dixième de tout ce que je gagne.” Le publicain, lui, se tenait à distance et n’osait même pas lever les yeux vers le ciel ; mais il se frappait la poitrine, en disant : “Mon Dieu, montre-toi favorable au pécheur que je suis !”
Je vous le déclare : quand ce dernier redescendit dans sa maison, c’est lui qui était devenu un homme juste, plutôt que l’autre. Qui s’élève sera abaissé ; qui s’abaisse sera élevé. » (Lc 18, 9-14)

Parabole du pharisien et du publicain

Jésus proposa une parabole à quelques hommes qui s’estimèrent justes et qui méprisèrent les autres : Un pharisien et un péager montèrent au temple pour prier. Le pharisien, se présentant avec assurance, rendit grâces à Dieu, d’abord de tout le mal qu’il ne fit pas, puis de tout le bien qu’il fit.

Jésus mit en présence ces deux hommes dont les dispositions morales furent aux deux pôles extrêmes de la vie religieuse, et leur fit exprimer clairement leurs pensées. En aucune occasion l’homme ne révéla plus distinctement ce qui remplit son cœur que dans la prière.

Le péager montra par son attitude qu’il fut profondément humilié devant Dieu, et pria ainsi : « Ô Dieu ! sois apaisé envers moi qui suis pécheur ! » Sur quoi Jésus déclara que celui-ci fut justifié devant Dieu et non pas celui-là. Car quiconque s’élève sera abaissé.

Cette parabole, particulière à Luc fut sans relation apparente avec l’enseignement renfermé dans celle-ci. Elle fut provoquée par quelque manifestation de propre justice qui attira l’attention de Jésus et de son entourage.

 Le pharisien, voulant se juger, prit  pour mesure, non pas la loi de Dieu, mais le reste des hommes ; et ces hommes, il exagéra leurs vices jusqu’à la calomnie, car ils ne furent pas tous comme il les décrivit. Enfin, son dernier mot exprima un profond mépris pour le péager. Le pharisien fit deux classes d’hommes : dans l’une il jeta tout le genre humain ; l’autre, la meilleure, il l’occupa tout seul. (Bengel)

Jeûner deux fois la semaine (le lundi et le jeudi), et donner la dîme de tous ses revenus, tel fut le devoir de tout Israélite. Le pharisien l’eut rempli, mais il s’en fit un titre de propre justice devant Dieu et de gloire devant les hommes. Il alla au temple pour prier et il ne demanda rien rien. Sa prière consista à énumérer d’abord le mal qu’il ne fit pas, puis le bien qu’il fit ; mais tout cela considéré dans des actes purement extérieurs, dans lesquels ni la conscience ni le cœur ne furent présents.

Tout, dans ce péager, dénota la plus profonde repentance de ses péchés, son attitude aussi bien que ses paroles. Il se tint à distance du sanctuaire ; il n’osa pas même lever ses regards vers le ciel, de peur d’y rencontrer son Juge ; il se frappa la poitrine, en signe de profonde douleur. Quant à sa prière, elle fut une humble confession et une ardente supplication. Elle n’usa pas de beaucoup de paroles, elle fut un cri de l’âme. Le péager, en s’en retournant, emporta dans son cœur la douce assurance du pardon de tous ses péchés, avec la paix de Dieu.

C’est une tournure hébraïque, équivalant à une négation, comme Psaumes 118.8. Il est bon de se confier en l’Éternel plutôt que dans l’homme, plutôt que dans les princes, c’est-à-dire qu’il n’est pas bon de se confier en l’homme, dans les princes.  (Luther)

Diacre Michel Houyoux

Complément

◊ Diacre Michel Houyoux : cliquez ici pour lire l’article →  Quiconque s’élève sera abaissé ; et qui s’abaisse sera élevé

Liens avec d’autres sites web chrétiens

◊ Hiéromoine A.S. : cliquez ici pour lire l’article → Homélie pour le samedi de la troisième semaine du Carême

◊ Séminaire orthodoxe russe en France  : cliquez ici pour lire l’article → Homélie pour le samedi de la troisième semaine du Carême

   Père Michel Marie Zanotti Sorkine : « La parabole du publicain et du phar « 

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Publié dans Carême, Catéchèse, comportements, Histoire, Homélies, Page jeunesse, Religion | Pas de Commentaire »

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Posté par diaconos le 6 mars 2021

Your brother here was dead, and he came back to life

enfant prodigue

# According to Jacques Ellul, this parable told by Christ also concerns, first and foremost, the eldest son, just as much as the prodigal son. In fact, it is also a questioning addressed to the Pharisees, close observers of the Law, questioning them about their harsh, legalistic relationship towards the lost sheep who stray from it. Between the 5th and 8th centuries, the parable of the Prodigal Son was used by several theologians, including St Peter the Chrysologist, to designate the two sons of the father, the elder son, symbolising Judaism, who remained closely attached to the house, and the younger son, the Church, destined to call all sinful men with mercy to return to the love of God, their father, as this divine love was revealed and manifested by Jesus, our mediator to God.

Pope Benedict XVI, following a whole patristic, theological and magisterial trend, identified the father in the parable with God, the eternal father. For this reason, the relationship with Him is built up through history, in a similar way to what happens to every child with its parents.

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From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke

At that time, publicans and sinners all came to Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and scribes rebuked him, saying, « This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. « Then Jesus told them this parable: « A man had two sons. The younger one said to his father, « Father, give me my share of the wealth that is mine. » And the father divided his goods among them. A few days later, the younger son gathered up everything he had and left for a faraway country where he squandered his fortune leading a life of disorder.

He had spent it all, when a great famine came to this country, and he began to find himself in need. He went to enlist the help of a local man, who sent him to his fields to tend the pigs. He would have liked to fill his belly with the pods that the pigs ate, but nobody gave him anything. So he went back to himself and said to himself, « How many of my father’s workers have plenty of bread, and here I am starving !

I will arise and go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your workers. » And he got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and threw himself on his neck and covered him with kisses. The son said to him, « Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee.

I am no longer worthy to be called your son. » But the father said to his servants : « Quickly, bring the best robe to clothe him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, fetch the fatted calf, kill it, let us eat and feast, for this my son was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. »

And they began to feast. Now the elder son was in the field. And when he returned and was near the house, he heard music and dancing. Calling one of the servants, he inquired what was going on. He answered, « Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has found your brother in good health. » Then the elder son became angry and refused to enter.

His father went out to beg him, but he replied to his father : « It has been so many years that I have been in your service without ever transgressing your orders, and you have never given me a kid to feast on with my friends. But when this son of yours came back after devouring your property with prostitutes, you had the fattened calf killed for him! » The father replied: « You, my child, are always with me, and everything that is mine is yours. It was necessary to feast and rejoice; for this thy brother was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found ! »  (Lk 15, 1-3.11-32)

Parable of the prodigal son

One man had two sons. The youngest son asked for his share of the inheritance and went to a faraway country, where he spent everything he had received, living in debauchery.  There was a famine; he ran out of everything. He became attached to a stranger, who employed him to keep swine, and did not even give him pods, on which the swine fed… He returned to himself, compared his position to that of his father’s mercenaries, and decided to go to his father and confess his guilt and unworthiness to him.

He got up and went back to his father. When he saw him coming from afar, he ran to meet him, threw himself on his neck and kissed him. The son confessed his sin. The father ordered his servants to bring what was needed to clothe his son and to prepare a feast in his honour. They began to rejoice. The eldest son, returning from the fields, heard the noise of the feast and asked a servant for an explanation. The servant told him that his brother had returned and that the feast had been ordered by his father.

He became angry and refused to come in. His father went out and begged him to come in. He reminded him of the long services he had rendered him, and complained that he had never received the smallest reward from him, while on the return of my debauched brother you killed the fattened calf. His father replied that his reward was to stay with him and to dispose of all his father’s possessions as he wished; that he had to have a feast and give himself over to joy, since his brother who had died came back to life …

Several Fathers of the Church saw in the eldest the Jewish people and in the youngest the pagans. The theologians of the Tubingue school were quick to grasp this interpretation, to support their ideas on the late period of the writing of the Gospels and on the tendencies they attributed especially to Luke’s.

The younger one was exposed to the seductions of the world. According to Mosaic law, the part of the property that was to be inherited by the younger son was half of what the elder son was entitled to, i.e. one third of the father’s estate. He asked his father to give him, in advance, the equivalent of this third in money. The father divided the two, gave the younger son his share and kept the elder son’s share for himself.

The father had no obligation to make this division; he could have refused to do so and thus forced his son to stay with him. He did not do so, because this constraint would not have changed the son’s feelings in any way. God likewise respects our freedom and leaves us all our responsibility; for he knows that trust and love must be free. It is through the experiences of life, so well described in this story, that man is brought back to God. No other means would suffice.

This was the aim of the youngest son in asking for his share of goods. Lack of love for his father, passion for independence, made the discipline of the father’s house intolerable and took away any sense of happiness he might have enjoyed there. Impatient to possess his freedom, he left a few days later without thinking of the grief he had caused his father. The distant country he went to is the image of the state of the man without God. Remoteness from God is the essence of sin.

His story is that of a crowd of young sons of a family who, living in dissolution, quickly manage to dissipate their fortune. Figuratively speaking, it is the story of the man without God, who sees himself through bitter disappointment, disgust, remorse, and the imaginary happiness he was asking for from the more or less coarse pleasures of the world. When, after having grazed the pigs all day long, he brought them back to the house in the evening, they were then fed pods; but to him, no one gave them to him.

The contempt shown to him by forgetting him in this way, the hunger that devoured him and which nothing could alleviate, was the last degree of debasement, of a suffering to which nothing could be added. Having thus returned to himself, this was the first step towards recovery. Until then, he had lived outside himself, carried along by the whirlwind of passions, of the outside world. But he came back to himself; he saw all the horror of his situation and discovered an abyss of evil in his heart.

In spite of his troubled conscience and his sense of unworthiness, he called his father, whom he offended. To make the sinner feel that he has lost all his titles to be a child of God is the effect of true repentance, but repentance inspires the desire to return in grace to God, to be admitted to his family, even if it is in the last place.

His father was waiting for him, his tenderness was waiting to surprise the return of his child. Then he ran towards his child, he facilitated this still dreaded meeting ; finally, he pressed him on his heart, moved with compassion, gave him, without words, that kiss of reconciliation which erased for ever all the past and made the son’s heart penetrate the assurance of his father’s unaltered love.

A ring on his finger and shoes or sandals on his feet were the sign of a free man; slaves went barefoot. The son’s rehabilitation was complete; he received forgiveness for his faults free of charge and immediately, without conditions or delays; he was reintegrated into the house and into the love of his father as if nothing had happened.

Death and loss is the moral state of every person who does not live in God: « Therefore it is said, ‘Awake, you who sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. « (Eph 5:14) God alone is the source of life and the supreme destination of every intelligent being. To return to God is therefore to return to life and to find his eternal destination.

In this parable Jesus described sin and its bitter consequences, repentance and the ineffable happiness of reconciliation with God, but he did not present himself as the mediator of this reconciliation. In other statements he clearly indicated the work of redemption, which alone will enable every person to return to God in grace and receive the spirit of adoption : « For this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. « (Mt 26, 28)

For the eldest son, being in his father’s house was not a happiness, but a service. He boasted that he had never violated his father’s commandments. Finally, as if he did not have the enjoyment of his father’s entire house, he reproached his father for never having given him a reward, not even a kid, which was little compared to the fatted calf. The reward of the child of God is the happiness of his father’s fellowship : « After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not fear, Abram! I am a shield for you. Your reward will be very great. « (Gen 15, 1).

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Homily :  click here to read the paper →  Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

◊ St Mary Magdalen (Parish)  :  click here to read the paper →  Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

  Saturday of the Second Week of Lent Reflection

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