This morning the Knights of Malta were at Saint John's for a Lenten morning of Recollection. Here is the homily I preached on the Gospel of the Prodigal Son.
Two sons. Two kinds of sons.
The first is a real screw up. So good at sinning, that we never know his name, just his occupation: prodigality...who in four short verses manages to commit six out of the seven deadly sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy.
And then there was the second son. No evidence of lust or gluttony or any of the other devils that possessed his brother. Maybe he was adopted. But what he lacks in quantity, he makes up for in the quality of his sin. For the older brother is so very proud: too proud to go into the banquet, too proud to trust in his Father’s love, too proud to forgive his repentant brother.
So what’s the difference between them? We know that the six-sinned Prodigal repented and was saved. We never hear what happened to the one who was too proud to accept it.
We spend a lot of time, you and me, trying to convert sinners. Sinners who commit the most despicable crimes against babies and old sick people.
Yet how easy it is for us to move from preaching conversion to sitting on our royal thrones, pronouncing how wicked they all are, and how lucky God is to have at least a handful of folks like us.
But, I fear, someday when, God willing, those six-sinner folks repent, we may be left standing here, wrists sprained from patting ourselves on the back...and then who will be saved?
For, the truth, at each evening’s examination of our consciences reveals, is that we are but worthless sinners, defaced by the ugliness of our sin, made beautiful only by the unmerited love of an infinitely merciful God. Wretched in our selfishness, devious in our narcissism and often so totally self-absorbed that we fail to pray the most primal of our prayers...Kyrie Eleison...Kyrie eleison...Kyrie eleison.
It is the mantra of the cripple by the side of the road, the blind man who can’t find his way in the dark, and the sinner, who seeks only the will of God in imitation of the total self-emptying love which is the cross.
And when we forget that, older brothers all, we commit the greatest sin against love and against the Gospel of Life.