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A Deeper Look at the Prodigal Son

The parable in this Sunday’s Gospel reading is often referred to as “The Prodigal Son,” because it seems to focus on the behavior of the younger son. However, there much more to reflect on here.

The Prodigal Son

Certainly, we see how the selfishness of the younger son drew himself into deeper sin, which brought him to the point of despair. He set aside the love of his father and the security of his home to satisfy his attraction to pleasure and self- indulgence. He even asked for an inheritance which was not rightfully his until his father died; as if saying to his father, “My inheritance is more important to me than you are. I wish you were dead.”

It wasn’t until he ran out of money that the son was able to see the tragedy of his choice. When he began to starve, he remembered how good he had it before he left home. His repentance was not of the best of motives; his main reason for returning home was to satisfy his hunger. However, he did confess that he no longer deserved to be called his father’s son & was willing to be treated as a servant.

The Father

The most important person in this parable is the father. Even though he was treated with disrespect, he longed for his son to return.

As the Gospel states, “While he (the younger son) was a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” He restored his son to the position he’d had before he left.

This is an image of our heavenly Father’s unconditional love for us.

  • No matter what we have done, he longs for us to return to him and to renew our relationship as son or daughter of our Heavenly Father.
  • For this renewal to happen, like the younger son, we must have a contrite heart and return to God, so that we can experience his unconditional love.
  • He never stops loving us, but when remove ourselves from him we do not have a since of his loving presence. When we do so, we lose sight of the plan he has for us and become sad, even hopeless.

The Eldest Son

Meanwhile, when the older son hears the reason for the celebration, he becomes angry; his brother is welcomed back after such a shameful departure. The older brother’s jealousy prevents him from sharing his father’s joy upon the return of his brother. It seems he would rather his brother continue to suffer the consequences for his selfish behavior—which of course is also selfish behavior.

His father tries to convince him of how much he is loved, and wants him to share in the joy of his brother’s return.

Finding Ourselves In the Story

With which of the three characters in this parable can you identify?

  • How about the younger son? Have you ever made a selfish decision that hurt someone else deeply? If so did you return to ask forgiveness? The best reason for reconciliation is not that we find ourselves desperate and believe that it’s the only way we can get what we want. The best reason is because our conscience tells us it is the right thing to do. Unless we have allowed our heart to become hardened, we cannot be at peace with ourself when we know we have been unjust.
  • Maybe we can relate to the older son, who allowed his jealousy to blind him of the joy his father wanted him to share in. Jealousy does not allow us to recognize our own gifts and talents, and prevents us from becoming what God wants us to be. Like selfishness, jealousy can cause us to be unhappy and hopeless. To refuse to forgive is to choose bitterness over happiness.
  • With the help of God’s grace, I hope we all can relate to the father. I hope that at times we all have been able to forgive for the sake of forgiveness & love for the sake of love.

I personally have been able to relate to both the younger and the older sons at different times in my life. I have also been able to forgive myself and others, and develop a desire to love God above all things and my neighbor as myself,  for the love of God.

We all are on a journey; what we were yesterday and what we are today, should not be the same as what we will be tomorrow.

Hopefully, this parable will convince us of the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father, and what we can do to experience that love. Forgiveness is a choice, and love is a choice.


Deacon Tom Fox is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Tom continues to serve as a permanent deacon, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Antonio.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

The Bountiful Divine Mercy of God

The Bountiful Divine Mercy of God

Is God’s Mercy truly limitless? Why does the Catholic Church celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy?

Listen in as Father Ed Hauf, OMI, discusses these things and the amazing message of Jesus, with Mother Magdalene (Mission of Divine Mercy, New Braunfels).

Holy Land

Forgiveness in the Holy Land

This week we spoke with two guests straight from the Holy Land – an Israeli and a Palestinian, who gave presentations around San Antonio about personal loss and their experience with forgiveness.

Ali Abu Awwad: Parents Circle – Families Forum, Project Manager

Ali Abu Awwad was born in 1972 in Hebron, Palestine.  The story of his family is like that of most Palestinian people, his father and all his family had to leave their village in 1948, since then they became refugees.

Ali’s mother was arrested in 1982 by the Israeli Army for a period of six months.  From then his family became active in the struggle for an independent democratic Palestinian State.  In the first ‘Intifada’ , his mother, brothers and he were arrested because of their activities in the struggle towards freedom.   Ali was in an Israeli prison for four years and was released after the Oslo agreement, which, he said gave them the hope for a peaceful solution with the Israeli people.  They believed in this agreement and started with others to build the Palestinian State and society which was interrupted by the second ‘Intifada’.

Ali joined the Parents Circle – Families Forum after his brother Yousef was killed by Israeli soldiers.  His brother Yousef Abu Awwad was 31 years old, married with two children and lived in Beith Ummar.  On November 16th, 2000 at a check point near the village he was interacting with an Israeli soldier, who subsequently ended this meeting with an un-armed Palestinian by shooting him in the head and killing him.  Ali received the terrible message of his death while he was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia after being shot in the knee by an Israeli settler.

Contrary to pressures from various groups and individuals who came to express their condolences, Ali decided that revenging his brothers’ death would not ease his pain or bring his brother back.  He thought the greatest tribute he could pay to his dead brother, his family and to his people would be to work to stop the cycle of violence and bloodshed.

Today Ali lives in Beit Ummar – Hebron, Palestine with his wife and two children.

Ali’s family and his brothers family joined the Parents Circle – Families Forum in 2001, and since then they have been working for peace and reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

Says Ali, “My duty as a Palestinian is to show the Israeli people that we have a just case and this can only take place when we stop the cycle of violence.  I believe that in order to have a just peace, Israelis and Palestinians should sit as equals at the negotiation table and work together to achieve a Peace agreement, free of violence from both sides.”

Yuval Rahamim: Parents Circle – Family Forum, Member

Yuval Rahamim was born in 1959 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Both his parents migrated to Israel as children and took part in establishing the state of Israel. The family moved in the 1960s to a small village in the Sharon area where they become farmers, specializing in growing strawberries and exporting the produce to Europe.

In spring 1967, Abraham, Yuval’s father was called for his reserve military unit due to the tension that was building up along the Israeli borders. Shortly after, on June 6th, the war broke. The war was over after only six days, thus its name “The Six Day War”. During the war Israel occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, the Jordanian West Bank of the Jordan River and the Syrian Golan Heights. The swift victory put the young Israel in a state of euphoria but for Yuval’s family there was no joy since the father Abraham was killed on the second day of the war.

Yuval’s mother was not able to handle the disaster- taking care of the three kids, her expected new baby, the farm and her own grief was just too much. So at the age of eight Yuval was sent to a boarding school. As a teenager he decided a military career will be the best outlet for his feelings of revenge so he joined the military academy and became an officer in the Israel Defense Forces [IDF]. After six years in service Yuval left the army, got married, had three kids and pursued a career in communications and High Tech. Over time his views and motivation regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict transformed from his personal tragedy and rage, to a firm determination that the tragedies, killings and hate on both sides must stop. He needed to take on an active role in this process.

With this determination, Yuval set up a group of Israelis, both Arab and Jews that wanted to create together a new vision of peace for the Middle East. That year was 2009. At the same time, Yuval joined The Parents Circle – Families Forum [PC-FF] where Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families join forces for reconciliation, understanding and promoting peace on both sides of the conflict. Members of PC-FF act together to spread the message of reconciliation to many groups on both sides of the conflict with remarkable results.

Yuval says, “When my kids reached the age when they needed to take part in defending their country through a military service, I felt it was the time for me to step forward. I was no longer comfortable with letting our official leaders make the change. Changing the course of our bloody history is too important to leave it in the hands of the politicians. It is us, ordinary people who paid and continue to pay the price of the conflict, who must enroll ourselves and act within our communities to create the grounds and movement towards a sustainable peace among our nations.”

Ali and Yuval were visiting the U.S. – speaking about their experience and the importance of reconciliation and dialogue. They both represented The Parents Circle Families Forum, founded in 1995 to spearhead a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Parents Circle Familes Forum have one important thing in common – they have lost family members due to the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Catholic Relief Services Southwest Region Office (S.A.) organized and sponsored their visit to San Antonio. Ali and Abu spoke at the University of Incarnate Word and at the Mexican American Catholic College. Both are promoting dialogue and reconciliation and prevention of violence.

We recommend the following resources related to this program:

– Official Website of The Parents Circle

– Official Website of Catholic Relief Services