Pope Benedict Reflects on the Prodigal…

Pope Benedict XVIHis Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI reflects on the Parable of the Prodigal Son at his Sunday Angelus audience on 3/14/10; From Asianews…

“This chapter of St. Luke represents a spiritual and literary high point of all time.  Indeed, what would our culture, art, and more generally our civilization be without this revelation of God the Father, full of mercy? It never ceases to move us, and every time I hear it or read it, it always suggests new meanings. Above all, this Gospel text has the power to speak of God, let us know his face, better yet, his heart. After Jesus told us of the Father’s merciful love, things have changed forever, now we know God, He is our Father who created us free to love and gifted us a consciousness that suffers if we get lost and that celebrates if we return. For this, the relationship with God is built through a story, similar to what happens to every child with their parents:  at the beginning he depends on them, then he claims his own autonomy, and finally – if there is a positive development – he comes to a mature relationship based on genuine gratitude and love.

“In these stages – continued the Pope – we can read even moments of the journey of man in relationship with God.  There is a phase that is like childhood: a religion provoked by need, by dependence.  Gradually man grows and is emancipated, he wants to free himself from this submission and become free, adult, able to regulate himself and make his own choices independently, to the point of even thinking he can do without God This phase, indeed, it is a delicate one and can lead to atheism, but this too often hides the need to discover the true face of God.  Fortunately, God never fails in his loyalty, and even if we move away and get lost, he continues to follow us with his love, forgive our mistakes and speak to our inner consciousness, to call us back to him.  In the parable, the two children behave in an opposite way: the younger son leaves and increasingly falls lower and lower, while the older son remains at home, but he also has an immature relationship with the Father, because, when his brother returns, the older son is not happy as the Father is, indeed, he grows angry and refuses to return home.   The two sons represent two immature ways of relating with God: rebellion and hypocrisy. Both of these methods are overcome through the experience of mercy. Only by experiencing forgiveness, recognizing ourselves as loved with a free love, greater than our misery, but also of our justice, will we finally enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God. “

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Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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