March 14, 2009
Saturday – 2nd Week of Lent
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 “Coming to his senses he thought, ‘I shall get up and go to my
father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and
against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you
would treat one of your hired workers."' He got up and went back to his father.
Imagine this: You are an OFW in Kuwait for more than 20 years. In your desire to bring home more money, you opted to stay and forgo your annual vacation to the Philippines. Finally your boss allowed you to go home for a short visit. You are excited. Bringing a big balikbayan box with you, you finally arrived home. And when your maid opened the door of your house, your wife and all your children rushed to the balikbayan box, excitedly opened it, and grabbed their pasalubongs. They totally forgot you. No hugs from your children. No kiss from your wife. They are totally distracted by the balikbayan box. What would you feel? I am sure you will be offended and disappointed that they are more excited to get their pasalubongs than to see you.
We are disgusted with the wife and the children’s wrong priority. But sometimes we are like them who are so engrossed with the gift (time, talents, and treasure) and ignored God, the Giver of gift.
In our gospel, when the younger son asked for his share of inheritance from his father, It is like indirectly telling his father, “I need your wealth. Not you.” I am sure the action of the younger son was a knife to the father’s heart. But the father did not show any anger but silently gave what his son was asking. No questions asked. No scolding.
When the son left his father’s house, his treasured wealth started to disappear. He later realized after dining with the pigs that he made a wrong choice. Then “coming to his senses,” the younger son returned to the father with a proposal: “Treat me as your servant and not as a son.” Again, without any question or scolding, the father joyfully said, “Let us celebrate because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again.”
Sinning against God is setting our eyes not on the Father but on his balikbayan boxes - when we prefer the gift rather than the giver of the gifts. This is our modern idolatry. But in spite of our ungratefulness, God never stops showering us with his grace.
In this Lenten season, we pray for the grace of “coming to our senses.” May God open our eyes for us to return to God what is due to Him: Our gratefulness. We are fortunate we are not yet “dining with pigs.” We still have everything: Our family, our parents, our wife/husband/children. We still have our health, memory, and strength. We still have the LOVE OF THE FATHER in spite of our unfaithfulness. Let’s come to our senses now, see that everything is gift, repent, and return to the Father.
Do not be tempted and blinded by our “balikbayan boxes” (our time, talents, and treasure). They are gifts but not our God. They are good servants but poor masters. They can give us happiness but not inner joy and peace. They are life-satisfying but not heavenly fulfilling. Yet many of us are still slaves of them. Let’s come into our senses (BALIK) and return to the fold of the Father (BAYAN). Let’s lean on to the GIVER OF LIFE and not on WHAT LIFE CAN GIVE TO US.
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. [Matthew 6:20]"
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
Pilar College, March 13, 2009