My friend was thirteen when his parents divorced.
This was a terrible trauma for him. He just
could not take it and he started on a spree
of drugs, girls, booze, partying... At 17
he had made a girl pregnant and then forced
her to abort. At 20 he married this beautiful
charming sweetheart. But the self destruction
continued. More girls, more partying, heavier
One day something happened. He was driving
by a Church and he stopped and entered. He
remembered how when he was still a small
boy, he used to go to confession and how
this always made him happy. He asked for
a priest and he spilled his entire story
with all the gory details.
The priest did something odd. He stood up,
asked this man to stand up and gave him a
bear hug. He just embraced him. "He
hardly said anything," my friend shared.
"He just hugged me. That day I understood
what Christianity is all about. Christianity
is this embrace, this hug."
There are three protagonists in the parable
of the prodigal son - the father and two
sons. One decides to leave home because he
believes that outside there is more fun.
The father, respecting his liberty, lets
him go. Not only that, but he gives him his
share of the inheritance. Perhaps some of
us can identify ourselves easily with this
son. We also thought that life away from
God may be fun.
And we left. Perhaps we too discovered soon
enough what this son discovers. The world
promises you a lot but delivers little. It
is all a lie. Sin promises freedom, but brings
slavery. It promises success, but brings
failure. It promises friends, but brings
loneliness. Pathetic, no?
Then there is the other son. He physically
remains in the house of the father. But his
heart is far far away. He is eaten alive
with envy and jealousy. "This son of
yours" - he daresay to the father -
is having the best of both lives. First he
enjoys prostitutes. And now he is enjoying
a feast that you organized. This is not fair!
This son also believes that fun is outside.
He feels he has been cheated out of life.
He does serve the father but with a forced
obedience, with a slavish mentality. Very
pitiable attitude. Like many of us!
Then there is the Father. He keeps scanning
the horizon, hoping that his son will come
to his senses and come back. And when he
sees him, he sprints towards his son! Why
should he run? This wayward boy had brought
nothing but disgrace to the family and village.
And yet … this old man runs.
He also comes out for the other son. He is
as patient with him as he was with the younger.
He reaches out to him and tries to explain.
The story concludes with an open ending.
We do not know whether He managed to convince
this 'ok' man! The people in the Church are
harder to convert!
The book 'God's Little Devotional Book' carries
a story that is very fitting. A boy once
said to God: "I've been thinking, and
I know what I want when I become a man."
He proceeded to give God his list : to live
in a big house with two Saint Bernard's and
a garden ... marry a blue-eyed, tall beautiful
woman... have three sons - one will be a
senator, one a scientist, and one a quarterback.
He also wanted to be an adventurer who climbed
tall mountains... and to drive a red Ferrari.
As it turned out, the boy hurt his knee one
day while playing football. He no longer
could climb trees, much less mountains. He
married a beautiful and kind woman, who was
short with brown eyes. Because of his business,
he lived in a city apartment, took cabs,
and rode subways. He had three loving daughters,
and they adopted a fluffy cat. One daughter
became a nurse, another an artist, and the
third a music teacher. One morning the man
awoke and remembered his boyhood dream.
He became extremely depressed, so depressed
that he became very ill. Close to death,
from a broken heart he called to God: "Remember
when I was a boy and told You all the things
I wanted? Why didn't you give me those things?"
"I could have", said God,
I wanted to make you happy!"
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright