Are We in Dire Need?

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

When we read the story of the prodigal son, we learn that the younger son, after leaving his family and spending his inheritance upon "a life of dissipation", "found himself in dire need." Saint Luke brings this message home when he writes that this son "longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed." It is easy for us to overlook that the older son in the story is also in dire need. He needs his father's approval and a sign of his love, such as "a young goat to feast on" with his friends. Both sons are needy, the one who dissipated his father's inheritance and the one who carefully husbanded it. As he did earlier during Lent, Saint Luke speaks to us here about what we really need. It's not "the whole world", but rather the love of the Father. Some come to realize this after a fall. Others after expecting, but failing to receive, a big reward at the end of a series of jobs well done. In either event, the answer does not lie in our grasping. It lies in God's offering, God's gifting. For "everything he has is ours." We should not be ashamed to cry with joy to hear such an offer. We can imagine the prodigal son himself, and his brother, doing the same.

Reflection based on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Helen M. Alvare

Father, help us to live with our hearts and
minds wide open to your gifts. Help us not to grasp,
but to receive, with gratitude and joy.

Today's suggested penance: Offer your day for someone who has fallen away from the faith.