Being Prodigal

“I am certain in my heart that all that I am, I have received from God”

~St. Patrick


Yesterday was the high holy day for all the Irish (and for those who wish they were Irish)!!  So, I begin with a quote from the saint himself.  If we think about it and reflect on it, all that we truly and deeply are is pure gift from God.  Yet, at some point, we begin to develop a sense of self (which is good!), and that self begins to rely on itself and determine that everything he/she has has come from him/herself.  All is self generated.

Today’s gospel is from Luke’s gospel and is most commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son.  The son takes his inheritance and squanders it. “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.”  His greediness for self and freedom made him choose to take what was eventually his and use it the way he wanted.

The word “prodigal” means “extravagant, wasteful.”  The son wasted his greed on his own pleasures and wants.  Yet, was the inheritance really his, or was his father also “wasteful,” giving away his own money and resources to his son?  The son wanted a life for himself, excluding his father and anything that his father may have wanted.

The older son isn’t off the hook either.  He becomes angry at his brother’s return, and a party thrown in his honor besides!  The older son is being quite generous with his anger and judgment!  He sets himself apart in his own form of greediness: “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with your friends.”  Comparing himself to his brother and showing how loyal and wonderful he has been as a son!

In our own greediness, how might we be separating ourselves from others?  How might we be “wasteful” or prodigal in throwing away what has been given to us?  How might we be wasting a lot of time and energy in anger, resentment, guilt, judgment, or self-righteousness?  What might our day be like if we decided to be prodigal in a totally different way, more like the father??  What if we chose to be prodigal with our time, our resources, our forgiveness, our compassion, our optimism, our silence, our comfort, and our love!!!  Might we feel differently at the end of our day?  Because, at the end of the day, don’t we truly have to admit that all of it - who we are and what we have -  ultimately comes from God?

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