Our priest gave an excellent homily. I am sure that most Christians have heard this story so many times that they could retell it quite accurately. I am sure that you have also heard many similar homilies/sermons on the parable as well - about forgiveness and jealousy, about mercy and love and repentance. I alternately identify with both the older and the younger son, and always seem to take something new from the story. But what Fr. Steven addressed in his homily was something completely new to me: the history behind this parable.
You see, Jesus did not invent this story. It began similarly to an old Jewish parable, but ended quite differently. In the original tale, the youngest son squanders his father's inheritance and returns home seeking forgiveness and to work as his father's servant. But his father does not run to greet him (an outward sign of emotion and physical exertion would have been below the status of a wealthy Jewish man), but when he is found in the household, he proceeds to turn his son away, to tell him that he regards him as dead to him. Then he finds his faithful older son and rewards him for his loyalty by giving him all he has. Quite different than the story we know, huh?
Fr. Steven preceded to tell us that the Jewish people regarded this as not only a tale to keep their sons in line, but also as an allegory of the relationship between God and his people. The father's love was conditional - I love you if you follow my rules, if you do not embarrass me - and so Jews believed was the love of God. When Jesus changed the ending of this parable to represent mercy and love instead of punishment and justice, he was overturning the faith's understanding of God.
Imagine the response of those listening to him. They knew the ending of the story, they had heard it since childhood, and here was this man presenting an alternate ending. Actually, we don't really need to imagine it, the message of mercy in the prodigal son is just as counter-cultural in our modern society as it was in Christ's time. Many of us expect (or want) an ending like the original story. Those who do good things should be rewarded, right? Those who do bad should have to live with the consequences. I like that sense of justice. Yet, when I really contemplate justice and consequences, I realize that although I may not have not gone as far as to squander my inheritance, I am certainly not without sin and am deserving of punishment. I am so very grateful for the mercy of my Heavenly Father.
While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him...
..."Let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found."Ok, on to what I wore (for Mass both yesterday morning and today. Don't judge.):
pink shirt: IZ Byer California | chambray shirt: Lucky
slacks: LOFT | shoes: Target | sunglasses: Gucci
This shirt makes me feel like a "fashion fortune teller". I've had it maybe eight years, long before chambray was "in". And honestly, I haven't worn it all that much, so I'm surprise I didn't get rid of it during my several moves. So glad I didn't, because I feel so fancy wearing something that's actually "trendy". I think this outfit would look great with my purple skinnies, but they're just not fancy enough for me to wear them to church, even if they are pretty fabulous.
I also think this needs a statement necklace, but alas, I do not own one. I've been eying this one from my boutique though:
You may notice I'm wearing sunglasses. (Yes, they are real Gucci. A hand-me-down from a relative that can afford many things I'll never be able to.) I never wear sunglasses in posts. They're hiding the huge bags under my eyes. I woke up quite bright-eyed this morning, but after wrangling a screaming toddler for sixty minutes, I felt (and looked) like I'd just run a marathon. Needless to say, Lulu's mass behavior = F--- I learned a valuable lesson though. I will be less tired waking up super early to go to Mass before naptime than I will sleeping late and trying to control a recently walking hellion during Mass.
I'm linking up to Fine Linen and Purple's What I Wore Sunday linkup. Check it out for more church attire inspiration.