Realizing Our Fallen State: On the Sunday of the Prodigal Son

Repentance is not self-pity or fruitless self-criticism. True repentance is the desire and the decision to turn away from sin and to flee to God for help. Christ teaches us not to remain where we are, pitying ourselves and making excuses for why we cannot change. He tells us to get up from our “spot” at the pigs’ trough and to flee back to the Father’s house in humility.
Priest Sergei Sveshnikov | 13 February 2009

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Dear in Christ brothers, sisters, and children,

In the choice of today’s Gospel reading, the Holy Church continues to reveal to us the true meaning of Great Lent, which is the approaching fast.  Last week, we were reminded about humility and repentance through the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee; today, we hear the same message in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

All of us know the parable very well and can easily recognize both ourselves and all of humanity in the image of the prodigal son.  Just like the prodigal son, we often turn away from God, saying, “Give me what is mine, and I will live without You” (Lk. 15:12).  We do not want to live in obedience to the Father and wish to do our own will.  And God gives to us what we ask of Him and allows us to leave, showing His most precious of His gifts to us—our freedom.

So, we leave and go to a land far away from home, where we look for pleasure and satisfaction (Lk. 15:13).  And it even seems to us at first that we find it, that it is a land of fun and joy.  But soon we see that the gifts that God so graciously gave to us are wasted, and even our freedom vanishes as we are forced to do the devil’s work and to tend a large flock of swine—our sins and passions (Lk. 15:15).  

Having left the Father’s house as King’s children and with spiritual treasures, we now find ourselves on our knees at the pigs’ trough, trying to satisfy our hunger with the food that is given to the swine, but even that is taken away from us (Lk. 15:16).

In this parable, Christ urges us to realize our fallen state, to open our eyes and to see how low we have fallen on our quest for earthly pleasures.  He wants us to learn humility and repentance, because they are the two wings that will lift us up from the trough of sin and carry us away from to herd of swine and back to the Father’s house (Lk. 15:18).

In humbling ourselves we learn to see the true state of our life, we realize that we are at the service of our sins and passions, which burden and bind us.  We are blinded by our pride and rebellion against the Father’s good will about us, but humility can lift those blinds from our eyes and lead us to repentance.  

Repentance is not self-pity or fruitless self-criticism.  True repentance is the desire and the decision to turn away from sin and to flee to God for help.  Christ teaches us not to remain where we are, pitying ourselves and making excuses for why we cannot change.  He tells us to get up from our “spot” at the pigs’ trough and to flee back to the Father’s house in humility.

And our loving Father, having been waiting for us and having seen us still a long way off, will run out to meet us and to welcome us back into His embrace (Lk. 15:20).  He will renew our royal garment which he gave to us at baptism, He will put on our hand a ring—the symbol of our dignity, and He will put on our feet the sandals of steadfastness on our way of living according to Christ’s commandments (Lk. 15:22).  In this is not only the meaning of Great Lent, but the true meaning of human life. 

Amen!

11/24 February, 2008

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