SATURDAY AFTER SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xv, 11-29.
(The Prodigal Son. Barabbas Preferred to Jesus.)
In that lime Jesus spoke this parable to the scribes and Pharisees: A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falls to me. And he divided unto them his substance. And not many days after, the younger son gathering all together, went abroad into a far country, and there wasted his substance, living riotously. And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country, and he began to be in want. And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father’s house abound with bread, and I here perish with hunger? I will arise, and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: I am not now worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, I am not worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came out and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing: and he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said to him: Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. And he was angry and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is come to life again; he was lost and is found.
Reflect deeply, O Christian soul, on this gospel so suggestive in its contents. Consider the departure of the prodigal son, his misery, his return to his father’s house; and examine to what extent you resemble him in honor or in disgrace. Contemplate how the suffering Savior allows Himself to be placed beside a lost son of Israel, Barabbas, a murderer. Pilate, in his effort to set Jesus free, believed that the Jews, mindful of the benefits bestowed on them by Jesus, would certainly prefer Him to a murderer. But the lost sons of Juda exclaimed: "Away with Him, release unto us Barabbas." O unfathomable wickedness of men, and incomprehensible humility of a God who endures it! Have you, O Christian soul, never preferred earthly things to your Saviour?
LET US PRAY.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, a salutary effect to our fasts, that the chastisement of the flesh which we have taken upon us may promote the vigor of our souls.
How often, O divine Sufferer, have we imitated the prodigal son in his wanderings, and how often have we chosen the murderer of our souls in preference to Thee. Through the superabundance of Thy sufferings, we entreat Thee for the grace to resemble the prodigal son in his return and in his conversion; and grant us the grace to prefer Thee to all things, and to become worthy of Thy compassion and heavenly peace. Amen.