The talk will revolve around the parable of the Prodigal Son and St. Pope John Paul II’s 1980 encyclical on the Mercy of God known by its Latin title, “Dives in Misericordia.”
Because one is never sure of the depth of an audience’s familiarity with the Bible, let me give you a very brief synopsis of the parable of the Prodigal Son. A rich man has two sons, and the older son is a dutiful and obedient and quiet man who does what his father expects him to do. The younger son is impatient. At the beginning of the story, he is impatient to receive his inheritance, and so he asks for it from his father so that he will have it before his father dies. His father agrees. So the young man takes his new wealth and goes off to foreign lands and squanders it on wine and women. Out of money and down on his luck, he has to take a job feeding the pigs. In that low position, he admits the reality of what he has done, and decides to go back to his father and seek employment as a servant rather than to be returned to his status as the son. As the younger son is approaching his home, the father sees him and runs out and embraces him and gives him new clothes and a ring and says, “let’s have a big party because my son has returned.” The older brother seems a bit put out by this generosity, and he points out that he has never even asked for one little thing but always done what his father asked of him and yet his father has never given him a party.
While the older brother is very interesting, let’s leave him by the wayside and focus on the Prodigal Son – the younger son – and the loving father. I have heard, you may have heard this too, that this story could also be called the parable of the loving father. And John Paul II suggests that in this story we see the essence of Divine Mercy in the profound drama that plays out between the Father’s Love and the wastefulness and sin of the younger son.Continue reading “Hungry to Know Our Dignity”