We are entering the 4th Sunday of Lent and I would like to remind us of our journey from Ash Wednesday to today. We walked together with the Lord in the desert and from the desert to the transfiguration where God the Father asked us to listen to his son. Last Sunday, Jesus asked us to be converted. He comes to us again, to tell us what kind of conversion he expects from us.
For this, we are given two sons of the same father, faithful to his love. On this day, it is good to remind ourselves of the sons of Adam, Abel and Cain, both of whom will behave in different ways. Abel looks to the Lord and believes that everything belongs to God. It is therefore normal that he gives the best to God as an offering, there he found his joy and consolation. A look towards heaven will direct all his actions on earth. God, who looks at the heart, and all that is done in secret, will accept Abel's offering, as a pure and worthy offering. Cain, on the other hand, looks at his brother, far from God and totally disconnected from God, with a gaze fixed on the visible and palpable elements, without wanting to recognise all that dwelt in his brother's heart. Totally disconnected from the Father's will, closing in on himself, will give an impure offering, half-filled, with a hardened heart. This offering will be rejected.
I invite you now to look at these two sons and their father in today's Gospel. The two sons, it seems to us, are acting in a normal and acceptable way, according to the justice and right that the world of the time has already established. In applying this justice and right, the son rightly claims his property and goes off to celebrate, unfortunately alone, ignoring the immense love of his father and putting him in great pain. In truth, this one doesn't have the right to claim for. However, in love the Father given him. And the elder son, who has witnessed his father's suffering, will repeat the same suffering that his younger brother has offered his father. It is a pity that the one who gives generously, the one who forgives without limit, the one who welcomes with an open heart, is a victim of a society that has no respect for itself and for others.
Life today is well summarised in this story. Joy and anger coexist, and everyone is invited to take them out of their backpacks. The little son, as today's Gospel tells us, "Then he went into himself", symbolically invites us to recognise all that dwells deep in our hearts, in our history. There we will recognise that our Father remains faithful, welcoming and open. "How many of my father's workers have bread in abundance, and I am starving here", a great discrepancy between what is happening in his Father's house and what is happening outside. "I will get up to go to my Father and the elder refused to enter. If the Father went out to welcome his little one, who was dead, then he will do the same for the other one, he will go out of the party, to meet him. As he let the little one go, he will let the elder one to remain outside and give him the time he needs to come back. A fair father.
It seems as if the story has ended well, because the son who had died has come back to life. Unfortunately the story has just started again, it is not over. It is our story that starts again today. We are that elder son who is still outside. We are all miserable, living in our Father's house, totally disconnected from the Father's love.
This Sunday invites us to taste and see how good the Lord is. Let us be touched by this love of God, by his patience with us, and his confidence in the return of his son, whom we are. "He who looks to him will shine, with no shadow or trouble on his face," the psalm of the day tells us. Let us savour this love of God who welcomes the two sons as they are, while expressing his joy and sorrow. Let us make a good choice, so that our father may be happy and we may participate in the feast he offers us, Amen.