I still love you
So many times in life the people we love do not live up to our expectations. Surely the father in today’s Gospel had always deeply loved both his sons. He had hopes for both of them. Neither of the brothers lives up to the father’s expectations, but he loves them both anyway.
Certainly, what the younger son did was the result of bad choices based on hurt feelings. Maybe he thought that his father loved his brother more than him or that he would be left out of the inheritance by his envious brother. Perhaps he thought he could do better with the money than his father had done. Maybe the younger son was just angry because he missed his mother. Whatever the reason might have been, he let his father down.
The older brother seems to have his issues with his father and brother as well. It seems that from his point of view the father loved his younger brother more than him. He was really angry with his father for having given so much to his younger brother and then also angry with his younger brother for spending it all. It sounds like he was envious of the good times his brother had before he lost it all. He is really angry when his father takes his publicly disgraced brother back. His attitude also lets his father down.
The father learns to put aside the hopes and expectations he has for his sons and focuses on his love for both of them. The hope in his heart is that his unconditional love will help his older son to let go of his jealousy and anger and so be able to live a full life in the same way that his love allowed the younger son to let-go of his hurt and anger and begin anew.
In this Holy Year we are reminded that the door of our merciful Father is always open to all of us. Whatever unfulfilled expectations we had of ourselves or of God or of others can be forgiven. Come to the banquet.
Fr. Joseph Jablonski, MSC