“Preachers who describe with such eloquence the ingratitude of the prodigal, his misery and abjection, his slavery, his repentance, and his humble avowal, his pardon and rehabilitation, generally neglect the last sentence, which nevertheless contains the moral of the parable. ‘My son, thou art always with me, and all that I have belongs to thee, but it behooved us to make merry and rejoice, because thy brother was dead and he is now alive, he was lost and is found again.’ Perhaps there are not in human language terms strong enough to express the feelings suggested to the pious soul by this parallel and this contrast. The penitent sinner becomes the favorite of God, the object of divine complacence and predilection: what a subject of admiraiton; what a marvel! But what happiness for the just man to hear the words ‘My son, thou art always with me and all that I have belongs to thee’! If a free choice were given, who would not prefer innocence preserved to innocence recaptured? Rightly do we admire, and rightly does the Church enthusiastically extol Mary Magdalene, St. Paul, St. Augustine, and all the great converts of either sex; but has not the Catholic liturgy accents more moving still to chant the glory of those pure souls who will follow the Spotless Lamb wherever he goes, and will form the retinue of the Immaculate Virgin before the throne of God?”
The following is an exerpt from a book called “Jesus Christ” by Fr. Ferdinand Prat, SJ. It is a book that has been recommended here several times in the past and it has currently been reprinted again and available on amazon.com.
After writing and deleting a post that I wrote earlier today, I was forced to think about the parable of the Prodigal Son. Much has been said in recent days on this blog about the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church and their return to Holy Mother Church from schism. Yet there are countless others too whom God and His Vicar on earth are willing to embrace once they return to the Church. I know many lapsed Catholics who have become Protestants and I know many others who have ceased to practice their faith. These too should be the subject of our prayers and meditations. These too should be the object of our daily sacrifices.
Sometimes, it seems to me that people would like to change the world, but don’t change the things that are in their own backyard. In reading about the saints, I have realized that conversion of the world begins with our own personal conversion. Once we start working out our spiritual life in fear and trembling, things have a tendency of coming together for the greater glory of God and His Church. Even the small widow’s mite that we contribute is not overlooked by God.
The thing is that sometimes Catholics get accused of doing too many good works to get into heaven. The thing is that faith and works are complementary and they work together. We cannot have one without the other. As the Apostle James wrote in his famous epistle, “Faith without works is dead.” This means that the Church places an equal emphasis on both of these and that they do not mutually exclude each other in God’s plan of salvation for the world.
Indeed, salvation is something that requires a lot of heavy lifting on our part. We cannot simply be saved once and always. No, we need to work hard to get to Heaven and to see God face to face. This does not mean, of course, that we do it alone. That’s why we have the saints and Mary to helps and that is why God showers the individual soul with hundreds of graces every single day. Yes, we get there, but we don’t get without putting in the blood, sweat, and tears to do it.
I think, too, that whatever work we do in this life comes from our interior life. No matter what we may set out to do as an apostolate. None of it can come without deep prayer and meditation on the workings of God. None of it can bear fruit if we do not feel that by doing this we are participating in God’s work.