St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish


Prodigal Son - Feb 12-2012
by Fr Roberto Ubertino 

A recently deceased priest once told me that Lent was the season when the music changes. This new music is the Lenten Triodion. The Lenten Triodion is this Holy Conversation between God in His Glory and infinite Majesty and men and women in their present suffering and pain.


The words of Scripture and the Fathers’ commentary on the Scriptures put into poetry and song, this is the Lenten Triodion. It is the song the church puts on our lips as we traverse Lent. It is the Song of the Publican bent over in sorrow but going home justified, and today we hear the song of the Prodigal Son going home to the Father. And the song begins in a pigpen.


The son of the father shares a home and a table with pigs. He has wasted all that the father has given him.

You made the land into a waste

            Your city destroyed,

Have you not done this to yourself by abandoning me?

            I have sinfully wasted the divine wealth you once gave me

            I am wasted with hunger, I have wasted my whole life.


In the pigpen the son hears the faint echo of the Father’s song, a song of love and of waiting for his return home.

Return to me, faithless Israel

            I will not look on you with anger

Because I am merciful

            Return to me O apostate sons

And I will bring you home into Zion

            I will heal your fractures

Only acknowledge you did not obey my voice

            And you shall call me Home and Father.


So the son turns towards the Father, the song in his heart is the Triodion. When we sing the Triodion we make the Scriptures ours; they become our song. In the pigpen the son comes to his senses through feeling hunger and thirst.

My people have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,

And dug for themselves cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.


The reason why we fast during Lent is to help us come to our senses. Our physical hunger is a type of our soul’s hunger and thirst. By fasting, and becoming aware that my soul is hungry, I break from sin. For sin, Olivier Clement reminds us, is to ignore our hunger and great thirst for Christ’s love and the joy of that love. A sign that we fast correctly is the discovery at some point during Lent the presence in us of an inexplicable quiet joy.


St Gregory Palamas reminds us that the sorrow of repentance cries out for a consummation. The consummation of sorrow is in the joy of homecoming. Note how the last three Gospels speak about this joy of homecoming, Zacchaeus, ……the Publican….. and today the Prodigal Son.


The consummation of sorrow is in the joy that the Father has, as he rushes forth to embrace his son, the consummation of sorrow is in the embrace that the son receives feeling totally accepted with inexpressible compassion by the father, the consummation of sorrow is in the joy when the son embraces the father in return, the consummation of sorrow extends the embrace of the father to others.


This is what the oldest son refuses to do. I am not only called home, but I am also called to welcome others home!


This is what the oldest son refused to do. We are called to open our arms to others, extending the merciful Father’s embrace, running out to them, embracing them, kissing them, clothing them with our best, making them honoured guests, offering them our best food, inviting them as family and, most important of all, by not asking for excuses or explanations, only showing our immense joy that they are with us again, the past is wiped out, what counts is the here and now where all that fills our heart is gratitude. Our heart filled with gratitude for the homecoming of our brothers and sisters.


This is what the oldest son refused to do. For he could not sing with the Father, “I am so glad you are here, I am so glad you are here. You were dead and now are alive. You were lost and now are found AND let us celebrate because you are finally home.”


Will you, will I, not join the song of the Father?

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