Sunday Homilies : Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 12, 2010

from Father Kevin Laughery, Troy St. Jerome and St. Jacob St. James Parishes, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Note: Comments from this page do not reach me; instead, email:

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It is curious that the word "prodigal" is used in the English language almost exclusively in reference to this parable of Jesus, popularly known as "The Prodigal Son."  Many of us have learned the parable without learning the meaning of the word "prodigal."

Many of us identify with the "prodigal son" (the word "prodigal" means "wasteful" or "spendthrift"), and yet he is the least interesting figure in the parable.  We can imagine wanting to do what he did, and we are amazed that he got away with, essentially, pretending that his father was dead and getting his inheritance in advance.  He is a fool who, when he is starving, has only the cunning which comes from an urge to survive.  He figures that he would be better off a servant of his father than dead, so he heads home.

More interesting than this younger son are the father and the elder son.  We wonder: Why does the father enable the younger son to pretend that he is dead?  Why did he allow him to rip him off?  And now, why does he welcome him home?  Furthermore, we are anxious about what the elder son has to say, because has a very good point!

Jesus gave us parables to make us uncomfortable.  This is probably the second most aggravating parable, after the one about pay scales for workers in a vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16).  As in the parable of the vineyard, you and I have a reaction reflecting a deeply felt sense about justice and retribution.  Why the lavish welcome?  We don't get it.  But such is the nature of God's mercy, which provides healing, affirming surprises for fools like you and me.

Direct download: KML_2010-09-12_945am.MP3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm CST