Perhaps the Jedi Master, Yoda, was familiar with the story we hear in the Gospel today. He counsels young Luke Skywalker, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
In the familiar parable we hear today, the Gospel includes one very short line in speaking of the older brother: “He became angry.” What is the older son afraid of? That his father loves his brother more than himself? That all his labors will never win his father’s respect? Or perhaps he really loves and cares for his younger brother and was hurt when he left. Perhaps he was worried about him and feared for him.
The parable teaches many different lessons. Great spiritual writers have used it to illuminate many aspects of God’s conduct toward us. One thing that this parable shows is that anger and fear do not have the last word. The father sees the hurt and the anger in the older son. He sees his insecurity and fear. He responds by telling his son, “All I have belongs to you. You have nothing of which to be afraid.”
The parable ultimately teaches us that nothing should stand in the way of our return to God. Like this old man who had two sons, God loves us as God loves all his children. We have nothing to fear, nothing which should make us angry. God comes to us as a loving parent, easing our fears, bridging our divisions, loving us no matter what, reminding us of our cherished place as God’s sons and daughters.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator