I often point out that the reason I’m a practising Catholic is because I haven’t got it right. I have to keep practicing until I can get it right.
In the past the parable of the prodigal was powerful in that I had been the daft child who had squandered the gifts and graces God gave me. But then I came home and He welcomed me.
But what about the first born son? As Jesus tells His story the First born is the pharisees who follow all the laws God has given and have even made up a load He never gave just to seem holier. But the firstborn son is also Israel, for Israel is God’s first born son (Ex 4:22) and those of us who are of the gentile nations are the younger sons.
But there is also the warning that once we are Home we could be tempted to resent the newly returned sons. I’ve seen some cross words and even quite spiteful words spoken and written about the Ordinariate for example. Why should the Holy Father (emeritus) kill the fatted calf for these Anglicans who had stood by while their church nose-dived and now want special favours? It’s a bit mean to think that way. If we really love God and His Home we should be happy when anyone else comes homes and be willing to join the celebration.
Doing what God wants only out of cold duty is not the way to heaven- and the first born son refused to enter the house where the celebration was taking place.
There is no place within God’s Home for joyless christianity.
For every prodigal that returns we are called to rejoice. And for many of us, that prodigal was us not so long ago.