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Trinity IX Sunday

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Trinity IX

Luke XV. 11

“…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Maybe some of you are like me and have a hard time answering this question that always comes up at every conversation that I have with someone that doesn’t know me, “where is your home?” This is not easy question to answer. I left my country at the age of 19 and haven’t lived with my parents since then. I’ve traveled across the world, not really having a home. I am here in the United States which I consider now as a home. However, I’ve been discovering this past years with so many changes in my life that while I may live here in this world for 50 or 60 more years, it’s only temporary. Our permanent home is with God who cares about us, who welcomes us whenever we come back to him, God who loves us so dear.

Today I’m going to talk about a story that you all know very well. To every believer or every student of the Bible, the parable of the prodigal son is one of the most familiar. We all know it by heart. We’ve studied it so many times already. We’ve heard sermons upon sermons about it. I would not waste your time reciting to you the whole story again. But let us take a moment and reflect little bit on the message behind it.

The major theme of this story is God’s attitude toward the lost. God not only accepts penitent sinners, he also desires their salvation.

In order to catch hold of this theme, let us consider every character of the story.

The first thing that we see here is the choice that the younger son made. It is not usual to see a son asking for his share of the inheritance before the death of his father. What he is saying is that he wishes the death of his father. He made the choice of death in the world instead of life at home.

As believers, followers of Jesus Christ, we are faced with the same choice: life with God or death in the world. This is to say that most of the time we feel empty. And we use things or people around us to fill that emptiness inside of us instead of coming home to rest, with God our Father. If we want to be honest, we must admit that this is the reality for most of us, at least sometimes.

But we can also choose to return to our Father, just like the younger son did. Because when you know your condition, then you can change your position.

The most important part of the story is the attitude of the Father after the younger son left home in a very offensive way. We learn that the father was watching for him to come back home. I can just picture the father standing at his driveway, looking for his son, for weeks, months, or even years. This is to tell us that no matter how big our sins are, no matter how far we run or what we have done, God is a forgiving Father. We just need to receive his forgiveness with humility as the son did. Our Father does not hold our sins against us, but throws a party when we come to Him for salvation and forgiveness!

I easily identify myself with the younger son because he represents the reality of my personal life. Some of you might not, because maybe you have lived a righteous and respectable kind of life and have never really left home. Maybe you have walked with God since you can remember. When you read about the older son’s anger, frustration, and jealousy, you may think that he has all right to feel that way.

But I want to tell you that although he stayed home with his father his entire life he was just as lost as his younger brother. He was not happy being home with his father. At least his younger brother was able to admit that he was lost, that he was a sinner, and he came back to his father for forgiveness. Though the older brother was physically with his father, spiritually he was far from home and filled with pride. He has a spirit of selfishness.

Are you happy being with God? Do you come to church, pray, tithe and serve faithfully but not finding any joy in doing these things? Is it hard for you to see a lost brother or sister come home to their father?

Let me tell you something, every church is the house of God here on earth. We are the body of Christ. The church should be a place where people are NOT afraid to come back. We should be the place of celebration, not a place where people are judged or looked down for one thing or the other.

The older brother thought he wasn’t a sinner: Listen, he said, “All these years I’ve been serving you and never disobeyed your orders.” (Lk. 15:29).

There are some people who consider themselves righteous because they dedicate their time, their talents to the service of their church. They think that makes them better than others.

But this is what God is telling you today:

“…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”