While the given gospel this weekend is the parable of the Prodigal Son, parishes in which catechumens are preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter will use the account of Jesus giving sight to the man born blind. In both gospel accounts Jesus is giving new vision. This is clearly evident when a man who is blind receives physical sight, but the greater miracle is when a lost son realises that he is lost and chooses to return home to his loving father.
Both sons lacked maturity and were bound by their fears and compulsions. The prodigal saw his home life and his father as obstacles to his freedom. He runs from this, soon falling victim to every superficial attraction waking up to realise that such an existence is not freedom but imprisonment. The home-bound son might initially appear to be virtuous, but on the return of his wayward brother his repressed anger and childish fragility erupts, and he is unable to delight in the return of his brother. Both sons are immature, one a fearful child, the other a reactionary teenager. Both are sinners, but we see only the prodigal reaching the great turning point of faith and accepting the loving embrace of the father. Such a life-giving conversion comes to us only when we are brought to our knees as the prodigal son was when he realised that life in the pig-pen was no life at all.
An Invitation: This Lent our nation has suffered a great tragedy which can be for us a turning point if we realise that an us-and-them mentality can only lead us to division, hate and violence. Let us pray for new vision, inviting Jesus to give us new sight continuing to work in us to transform our hatred into love, our doubt into faith, our despair into hope our sadness into joy, and our darkness into light.
Fr John O’Connor