This past Sunday we read Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.Luke 15:11-32
And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”
What an incredible story of transformation, repentance, and grace. Besides sharing with you some very beautiful hymns we sung this past weekend, I wanted to share with you what the Lenten Triodion service book has to say about this particular Sunday’s reading and it’s placement just before the start of Great Lent. There is a section in the beginning of the Triodion that is called Inner Unity of the Triodion which gives brief explanations on why we commemorate what we do when we do. For example this past Sunday was the Prodigal Son which is always 2 weeks prior to the start of Great Lent.
The parable of the Prodigal forms an exact ikon of repentance in its different stages. Sin is exile, enslavement to strangers, hunger. Repentance is the return from exile to our home; it is to receive back our inheritance and freedom in the Father’s house. But repentance implies action: ‘I will rise up and go..’ (vs. 18). To repent is not just to feel dissatisfied, but to take a decision and to act upon it.From the Lenten Triodion
On this and the next two Sundays, after the solemn and joyful words of the Polyeleos at matins , we add the sorrowful verses of Psalm 136, ‘By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept…’. This Psalm of exile, sung by the children of Israel in their Babylonian captivity, has a special appropriateness on the Sunday of the Prodigal, when we call to mind our present exile in sin and make the resolve to return home.
The theme of repentance is strong as we approach Great Lent, as we approach the time to dive deeper into our work of salvation.
The hymn they are referring to, Psalm 136, By the Waters of Babylon, is so incredibly beautiful and we only get to sing it 3 weekends of the year leading up to Great Lent. I have scoured the internet for the same version we sing in our parish, but I could only find one. And it just is not the same. My daughter sings the verses of this hymn and it just moves me. I am going to try and record her on one of the next two weekends and post it here for you.
I am so ready for the movement into Great Lent. For a time of repentance, transformation, and grace. A time to set aside my own will and focus on something other than myself, someone other than myself. It is time to “rise up” and act.
Are you ready for Great Lent? Are you ready to make use of this time for repentance, movement?