Sunday, September 12, 2010

Homily: The Return of the Prodigal Son, Thinking Rationally

“What made the Prodigal Son take those first steps in coming home?”

I think it was disappointment in the world. He’d spent and wasted his entire inheritance and when he was hungry no one gave back to him. “He longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but no one gave him anything.”

I know when I’m not at home when I invest myself and my resources and find myself depleted. When I keep trying to be fed by someone or something that can’t feed me in the way that only God can. I think it’s basically the nature of addiction that we try and try to feed ourselves with something that will never feed us. The definition of Insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” What allowed the Son to come home is that he did something differently and began to think rationally. The scripture says “He came to his senses and thought.” Instead of asking the same people over and over again and acting irrationally and insanely and trying to feed on the swine and the prostitutes and the partying. He had a movement of rational thinking…. “Hmmmm… I bet if I went home to my Father, he would feed me.”

A good indicator of irrational thinking is: Frustration, irritability, exhaustion, compulsion, shame, guilt, denial, despair, desolation. If you are experiencing any of these you may be acting irrationally and you may have unknowingly walked away from the Father’s embrace.

We can very easily and quickly get ourselves into bad situations. It begins with small steps, a few lies that we tell ourselves or others and before we know it we can get ourselves in some pretty unthinkable situations.

Is there something in your life right now that is not life giving? Is there something that is draining you? Are you involved in something that you never thought you would be involved in? Is there some way of living that is totally irrational for you?

So what changed in the younger son? Ultimately it was his thinking. He came to his senses and began to think rationally.

What could have been his irrational thoughts that kept him miserable and kept him from returning home?

-nobody loves me.

-I have to take care of myself.

-I’ve destroyed my life.

-I can never go back

-I’m disgusting

-I am a pervert

-I want this life of indulging my feelings

-I want to be independent. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.

-I’m never going to find work

-I’m never going to be fed

-I’m never going to be happy

-my life is worthless

-I’ve gone too far and can never go back

-My father will never forgive me for what I’ve done

-I’m not worth anything

-I’m no longer his son

-things could never be the way they were

These are all untrue and irrational thoughts. These could have been some of the thoughts that allowed him to wallow in the mud. And these are thoughts that we all may experience when we are at our worst. But what changed in the prodigal son that allowed him to take those first steps home? He began to think rationally. At one defining moment “He came to his senses and THOUGHT.”

Coming to his senses he thought,
'How many of my father's hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."'

Instead of: “Nobody Loves me.” A more rational thought is: “Well yes, actually there is one person that loves me: My Father. “

-I have to take care of myself. Well, no actually, I don’t have to. I was never meant to, that’s what the Father is for.

-I’ve destroyed my life. Nothing has the power to destroy what God creates. There is nothing he can’t redeem. I may have made some bad choices, but the Father can restore me.

-I can never go back. I can go back – he will run to me and love me.

-I’m disgusting – I am created in the image and likeness of God, I am beautiful in his eyes.

-I want this life of indulging my feelings – the indulgence brings such a temporary satisfaction and it’s never enough, I always want more than I can get. What I truly want can only be fulfilled by the Father.

-I want to be independent. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. Following my own will has led me to this place, maybe it’s time I listen to God and the Church.

-I’m never going to find work. I’m having a difficult time right now, but God created me to take part in work and if I return to him he will give me work.

-I’m never going to be fed. I’m not receiving the sustenance I need right now, but if I go back to the one who is the source I will be fed.

-I’m never going to be happy. I’m having a difficult time being happy now because of the circumstance that I am in, but the Father does promise me happiness and he desires it for me even more than I desire it for myself.

-My life is worthless. My life is not worthless; it has a value beyond what I can imagine because I am created by God.

-I’ve gone too far and can never go back. The Father is never separated from me and He always invites me back. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord.

-My Father will never forgive me for what I’ve done. I can’t be sure he won’t forgive me, but I can give him the chance.

-I’m not worth anything. I have worth because I am my Father’s son.

-I’m no longer his son. I am still his son and nothing can change that.

-Things could never be the way they were. With God all things are possible. Maybe things won’t be the way that they were, they could be even better.

It was in that moment of coming to his sense and thinking rationally that the Son had the courage to take those first steps. And as enterers onto His Father’s property, the Father sees him, is filled with great compassion, runs to him, embraces him and kisses him.

All it takes is a step onto the property one moment of rational thinking. Just as the Son knew intrinsically that the Father would take him back. You know deep within too that God will accept you. Just give God a little indication that you want to come home and he will run to you. If you find yourself in any situation that is draining you, demoralizing you, imprisoning you, starving you, saddening you, depressing you, and you’ve repeatedly done the same thing over and over and gotten the same results. Stop the insanity, stop thinking irrationally. Come to your senses and think rationally. Do something different. Take a step back onto the Father’s property.

Think about it. You don’t have to be miserable. You can come back to him. Seek him in those that know you and love you. Seek him in the sobriety that can come with counseling and community. Seek him in the sacrament of confession. Seek him here in the Eucharist where he does feed us. Come back to his embrace and stop seeking it in places where you are not finding it. You are loved, you are welcome back. God is filled with compassion too as he sees you take that first step onto his property. He will run to you, kiss you, hold you in His arms and rejoice because the “son of his that was lost has now been found, the one who was dead has now been brought back to life.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Father Michael! During my times of irrational thinking, this sums everything up the best.


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