Commentary on The Reading of the day provided by :
Saint John-Paul II, Pope from 1978 to 2005
Apostolic Exhortation « Reconciliatio et paenitentia », § 5-6
(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana)
“A man had two sons”
This prodigal son is man every human being: bewitched by the temptation to separate himself from his Father in order to lead his own independent existence; disappointed by the emptiness of the mirage which had fascinated him; alone, dishonored, exploited when he tries to build a world all for himself sorely tried, even in the depths of his own misery, by the desire to return to communion with his Father.
Like the father in the parable, God looks out for the return of his child, embraces him when he arrives and orders the banquet of the new meeting with which the reconciliation is celebrated…
But the parable also brings into the picture the elder brother, who refuses to take his place at the banquet. He rebukes his younger brother for his dissolute wanderings, and he rebukes his father for the welcome given to the prodigal son while he himself, a temperate and hard-working person, faithful to father and home, has never been allowed-he says to have a celebration with his friends.
This is a sign that he does not understand the father’s goodness.
To the extent that this brother, too sure of himself and his own good qualities, jealous and haughty, full of bitterness and anger, is not converted and is not reconciled with his father and brother, the banquet is not yet fully the celebration of a reunion and rediscovery.
Man every human being-is also this elder brother.
Selfishness makes him jealous, hardens his heart, blinds him and shuts him off from other people and from God…
The parable of the prodigal son is above all the story of the inexpressible love of a Father…
But when the parable evokes, in the figure of the elder son, the selfishness which divides the brothers, it also becomes the story of the human family…
It portrays the situation of the human family, divided by forms of selfishness.
It throws light on the difficulty involved in satisfying the desire and longing for one reconciled and united family.
It therefore reminds us of the need for a profound transformation of hearts through the rediscovery of the Father’s mercy and through victory over misunderstanding and over hostility among brothers and sisters.