24th Sun OT, Year C
Rev. Victor P. Ingalls
Why is it…that so often in life we have to hit rock bottom before we start to
understand what really matters in life?
Such was the case for the prodigal son. It wasnʼt until he was stripped of
his money, his friends, his family, his comforts, food and drink…that he was
force to take an honest look at his own existence. Deprived of all of the
things that he had always looked to determine his self worth…the prodigal
son felt that he had lost his dignity. He decides to go back to his father, but
not as a son…but a “servant.” In his mind, he had squandered away not
just his money…but his sonship. He felt like he did not deserve to be called
his fatherʼs son anymore because of the way he had acted and the way in
which he had squandered his inheritance. So he plans to go back to his
father not as his son…but as a hired hand.
He, like many of us, had an idea of his own identity and self-worth that was
based on merit. If you are successful, then you have self-worth and have a
right to be respected and loved. However, if you fail…then you have lost
your dignity and you have to WORK your way back into a meaningful
When we fail in life…whether it be in a task we have taken on or a sin that
we have committed…how easy is it for us to begin to wallow in our
failure…unable to see anything else. Dark phrases like “I am no good. I am
useless. I am worthless. I am unlovable. I am a nobody” start to swirl in our
minds and cause us to start drowning in our own self-pity.
To regain our self-worth and dignity seems like an impossible task—it
seems like we will have to work for years to even begin to be worth
It is with this frame of mind that the prodigal son goes back to his father…
But what does he actually encounter?!
A Father that has been waiting, with expectant-Hope for his return!
A Father that, at the moment he catches sight of his son, RUNS out to
meet, embrace, and kiss him.
A Father that not only Forgives his son for his foolishness but welcomes
him back with GREAT Joy!!!
What???!!! Had not the son forfeited his own worth and sonship by the
string of bad choices he had made??!!!
Here we are introduced to the LOGIC OF GOD….so different from that of
Whereas we tend to base our self-worth and meaningfulness in what we
accomplish….God sees us for who we are in and of ourselves. You cannot
merit being somebodyʼs son. You just are. The Love of the Father for the
prodigal son is not based on the sonʼs merit. It is simply based in the
unconditional Love that the Father has for the son…that Love which
impelled him to bring his son into existence in the first place.
To receive the Love and Forgiveness of his Father, the Son has to do
nothing more than OPEN himself up to it. To simply come home before the
Father with a contrite heart–thatʼs it??!!! Seriously?!!
Maybe you find yourself as incredulous as the older brother. He, like his
younger brother, thinks that being “loved as a son” is something that ought
to be merited. For years he has been faithfully serving his father. Not once
did he disobey his orders. In his mind, he had EARNED his fatherʼs Love
and respect. He had progressively built up his own self-worth and come to
DESERVE his title as “Son.”
Consequently, he is enraged to see his younger brother…who had
completely disobeyed his father….welcomed back with such joy and
festivity. It makes no sense to him. If ANYBODY DESERVES to have the
fatted calf slaughtered for them…it is HIM…not his dufus little brother.
He feels totally gipped & complains to his Father, ”You never gave me even
a young goat to feast on with my friends.
Both sons have an obstacle in understanding their Fatherʼs Love for them–they think it is something that is earned.
Many times this is what keeps us from coming back home to our Heavenly
Father with contrite hearts—we think we have to earn his forgiveness and
give a very savvy account for our sins…so that he might take us back. But
this is the Great LIE of evil and Darkness that we must overcome today.
The TRUTH is that before we even start to convert…God..the Good
Shepherd is searching out for us. He has left the 99…and is risking
everything on find us.
The TRUTH is that when our hearts turn even the slightest bit towards
God…he is waiting…brimming with excitement to heal us and restore us.
The TRUTH is that no matter what we do in life…good or bad….we can
never change the fact that God is our FATHER…and we are his Children.
Our actions, no matter how good or bad could never earn, cancel, or
increase Godʼs Unconditional Love for us.
The TRUTH is that when we do come back to the Father with contrite
hearts…God is not annoyed…he is not angry…but he, and all of heaven, is
BURSTING with JOY.
Jesus tells 3 parables in a row to try to convince us of this point—that their
is nothing more enjoyable to God than our conversion!!! He is deeply in
love with us. His JOY is ignited when we turn to him and LOVE him in
Return. We are his lost sheep. His Lost Coin. His prodigal son. Call it
whatever you want. He just wants us to LOVE HIM BACK.
So what is holding us back?
Do we tend to believe that Godʼs love is more complicated than this? Do
we want to believe for some reason…that Godʼs love is something that
we…or others have to earn or “Deserve?!!!”
In light of our sins and failures in life…have we allowed the Lies of this
world to bog us down? To make us believe that we are nothing but a
burden, a source of conflict, a drain on other peopleʼs time and energy?
Wherever you are today, hear the words of Blessed John Paul II and
believe them—“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s
love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”
It is HIS LOVE for us…that gives us our VALUE and Meaning. That is our
FOUNDATION. That is the TRUTH underlying our existence. That you are God’s
daughter. You are his Son. Not because of anything you have ever done or will
do…not because of the balance of all of your faults and accomplishments…but
because of his unconditional Love for you.
Believe these words today. And let the FATHER REJOICE because of you.
*Let go of your sins
*Let go of your jealousies.
*Let go of your resentment for the Fatherʼs love of others in your life
Simply turn to the Lord with a contrite heart.
As you approach the altar
As you approach the confessional…
As you approach one another
As you approach our Lord in prayer…
COME with CONFIDENCE…..Knowing that you Father in HEAVEN has
been waiting for you…..has been searching for you…has been planning a
celebration for you every second of every day…..
He is simply waiting for you to offer him your contrite heart…so the
Festivities may begin!
True Self Worth
24th Sun OT, Year C