Prodigal is usually not a word we use in our everyday vocabulary. We probably don’t say: The billionaire was so prodigal with his money….or…My ice cream was prodigal with toppings. It would not be surprising that when we hear the word prodigal, images of the younger son in today’s gospel come to mind –how he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation, as we read in today’s gospel. Synonyms for the word prodigal are wasteful, reckless, spendthrift to name a few. We can see how the meaning of prodigal as wastefully extravagant applies to the younger son. But there is also another meaning to prodigal – lavish generosity. We can see how that applies to the father in today’s parable. We know that the father represents God, the Father – our heavenly Father. The forgiving (unconditionally), loving father in today’s parable stands in stark contrast to the grudge-holding older son.
In today’s second reading from the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy, we hear: Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ treated St. Paul mercifully. St. Paul describes his transformation by grace: I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated.
We too are transformed by grace, each time we partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, acknowledging our sinfulness and accepting the incredible generosity of Jesus Christ – treating us mercifully.
Like the father in today’s parable, God calls us to be incredibly generous. As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, we are reminded of the mission given to us by Jesus Christ at our Baptism – to go our and proclaim the Good News! Some of us will do so as parents, the first and most important teachers of our faith to their children. Some of us will volunteer to teach in the parish’s CCD program or in RCIA. All of this, only possible because by God’s amazing grace!
God bless us all always!