Reflections on the Holy Scripture: The Prodigal Son



                                           By nun Matrona (Lukashova)

"Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” (Luke, 15:11-32)

The first idea, which came to my mind after I have read this passage, was about my incapability to receive the gift. It’s inconvenient, I do not match the gift, but I have to take it with humility, in order not to offend my neighbor, not to insult the Spirit of God. How? I will try to figure it out. There is an elder son: he lives as a beloved child in prosperity in the father's house, but at the same time he is upset, something is wrong. He is unhappy (if not so, why could he dream about having some fun with his friends. What is more, it is not clear, whether he participated in the festive dinner or not). It looks like me so much!

The father tells him "all that I have is yours", but the son objects, because the father has not given give him a young goat. It is a contradiction, which can be solved, perhaps, in the following way: the father can only give something to his son as a gift. However, the elder son cannot receive something from his father as a gift, but only as the payment for his work ("these many years I have been serving you"). Besides, he is concerned that he "never transgressed commandment" of his father.

And if something is not just received as a gift, but is hard-earned, then how can one be thankful for this? Archpriest Nikolay Guryanov said, "A thankful person needs nothing". Maybe, the elder son's problem is that he does not live with gratitude? I have the same problem! Lord, forgive me!

And there is a younger son: his strong need helps him to come to his senses, come back to his father and receive his forgiveness. When I really need something, I accept it with joy and gratitude. Does it mean that sometimes it is useful for us to be in need? Maybe yes, and that is why the Lord allows this sometimes. Of course, this does not mean that we should waste everything what we have got without any sense, just like the younger son did.

Sometimes I do so. I spend my spiritual and physical forces on interesting and even useful things, but not on something, what is really necessary and blessed. Then I feel the lack of inner happiness and peace. The desperate condition, the memory of a prosperous parental house, the faith in an undoubted father’s love and, unlike the elder son, the acknowledgement of his indignity, let the younger son to seek for the father’s forgiveness and fully accept this forgiveness as a gift. To accept the best clothing, the finger-ring and the shoes (the sandals, which only the master could wear in the house, but not the servants and guests). So, I also have to acknowledge my mistakes and accept everything, what the Lord sends, with gratitude. And most often my gratitude became the beginning, the source of repentance. Lord, help us all!  

St. Elisabeth Convent, 
February 12,2017

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