The Catholic Defender: The Prodigals Think They Are Entitled
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Notice the Prodigal son in this story took his inheritance, something that he did not deserve but what was given to him by his Father. Being the younger Brother gives the feeling that he took his inheritance premature while the older Brother continue to live his bountiful life.
I see so many young people today that have this “give me, give me” mentality. We have been raised in this entitlement generation. It has become an expectation that you will receive a car, a television, a stereo, even the poor has at least two DVD players.
The idea of commitment, hard work, and earning what you have has been lost somewhere along the way. I saw this a lot as many times young families get themselves in deep debt getting that new car, all the latest commodities, starting out using credit cards. It’s one thing to accumulate things a long the way, but for so many young families, they find themselves financially in debt.
This story is far more than simply the physical means and standards of life, this is really spiritual. This is a question of God’s grace that was given as an inheritance to the sons in this story. One of them remained faithful, the older brother represents the wise one. The younger one squandered his inheritance on loose living.
Falling into sin causes a person to loose their inheritance. St. Padre Pio stated that sin cuts into grace as an ax cuts into a tree. Mark 9:42 states, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
This is the spiritual condition of the younger Brother as he finds himself destitute in a foreign country. As a Jew, to be at the point of tending pigs would be unclean, lost. He would be dead as he would be at his rock bottom condition. Many times friends are friends as long as you can supply a good time, but when the money is gone, so are those friends.
The good news of this story, Jesus is showing that even should you fall away from your Faith, God did now abandon you, He gives you the opportunity to make your final choice. James 5:19-20 states, “My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
This is the good news that Jesus relates to the Prodigal Son. Even though he was lost, the Father went running out to meet his son because his son has returned back home. Luke 15:4-5 states,“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, when someone returns to the practice of their Catholic Faith, there is a great party in Heaven. This is the meaning in the Prodigal Son story. The Father has great cause to celebrate giving the fatted calf, music and dancing, a great celebration because the Prodigal Son was dead, but he is now alive.
If your a cradle Catholic, your faithfulness is very well founded. You are one of the 99 that the Lord will keep safe within the bosom of His security, as the Lord seeks out the lost. Like the older Brother, you are living God’s grace as your inheritance. We are to welcome the Prodigals back with their repentance.
Unfortunately, too often today we have Prodigal Fathers who know what it is to have children out squandering their inheritance in a world that is dog eat dog out there. Because of our entitlement mentality, everything seems automatic, but when you get out there in the real world, you can easily find yourself out there eating pig slop. Pig slop is pig slop even if you eat it out of a silver bowl, “a bathed sow returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:22
1 Corinthians 15:53-58 states, “For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
After putting this article together about the Prodigal son, I went to sleep thinking about this and I woke early this morning and I just turned on the television. It was like 4:30 A.M. or so and I didn’t really want to watch news this early so I looked to see what movie I might want to look at. The movie Gridiron staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I chose to watch it. I has seen it years ago, but perhaps because I was thinking of the Prodigal son, this movie had a great impact on me this morning. To see one man make the difference in so many lives to help young people make something of themselves, people, we have a lot of work to do.
The Lord has not given up on people, let us work to help those who need to see the value God places in them.