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Gospel for Sunday, March 27 Luke 15: 1-3.11-32

IV Sunday of Lent C

1All the tax collectors and sinners approached him to listen to him. 2The Pharisees and scribes murmured: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”. 3Then he told them this parable…: 11“A man had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father: Father, give me my share of the inheritance. And the father divided the assets between them. 13After not many days, the youngest son, having collected his things, left for a distant country and there squandered his substances by living profligately. 14When he had spent everything, a great famine came in that country and he began to find himself in need. 15Then he went and placed himself in the service of one of the inhabitants of that region, who sent him into the fields to graze pigs. 16He would have liked to satisfy himself with the carobs that the pigs ate; but no one gave it to him. 17Then he came to himself and said: How many hired servants in my father’s house have plenty of bread and here I am dying of hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; 19I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Treat me like one of your boys. 20He left and walked towards his father. When he was still far away, his father saw him and, moved, ran to meet him, threw himself on his neck and kissed him. 21The son said to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy of being called your son. 22But the father said to the servants: Quickly, bring here the best robe and dress him, put the ring on his finger and the sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fatted calf, kill it, let us eat and celebrate, 24because this son of mine was dead and came back to life, he was lost and was found. And they began partying. 25The eldest son was in the fields. On his return, when he was near home, he heard music and dancing; 26he called a servant and asked him what all this was. 27The servant answered him: Your brother has returned and the father has had the fatted calf killed, because he has received him back safe and sound. 28He got angry, and didn’t want to go in. The father then went out to pray to him. 29But he answered his father: Behold, I have served you for many years and have never transgressed your commandment, and you have never given me a kid to celebrate with my friends. 30But now that this son of yours who devoured your possessions with prostitutes has returned, you have killed the fatted calf for him. 31The father answered him: Son, you are always with me and everything that is mine is yours; 32but we needed to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and has been found”.

Luke 15, 1-3.11-32

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.


The parable of the “prodigal son” or rather, as it is now called, of the “merciful father” or the “model father”, has been defined as “the pearl of parables”, “the Gospel of the Gospel”.

Very often this parable has been read as a path of conversion indicated to the disciples. In reality at its center is the theology of Paul, of whom Luke was a collaborator and doctor, on justification through the grace of God alone and not through the works of the Law, and the difficulty on the part of the Judeo-Christian component of the first Church to accept that a salvation was announced to the pagans that no longer came from observance of the Law of Israel but only from adhesion to Jesus. It was a slow, laborious and certainly not painless process to move from a religiosity based on observance of prescriptions and decrees to a Faith in a God of Mercy who freely saves everyone, Jews and pagans, good and bad, just and sinners.

Let’s analyze the splendid dynamics. The father’s attitude is disconcerting: “To an elementary logic his may seem more reckless than good, but he refuses to even investigate the plans and intentions of his second son” (O. da Spinetoli). The father in the parable does not make any threats, he does not issue any excommunication: he leaves the door of his love open to him. The prodigal son, having reached the end of his path of abjection, is attracted by the love and sweetness of his father’s house, even if not even he has understood how far the parent’s goodness will go, and hopes to be able to return to the house at the latest as servant. Literally the text states: “Having risen (anastàs) I will go to my father” (Lk 15,18): the verb anìstemi is used, the verb of the resurrection, which in Greek is called anàstasis, and which the father will take up again in v. 24. Returning to the Father is being resurrected, and resurrection is precisely the full participation in the life of the Father.

But why does he decide to return? Out of interest: “I’m dying of hunger here!” (Luke 15:17). We are used to meditating on this parable before the sacrament of Reconciliation or on the occasion of some penitential liturgy: but “we must immediately dispel a mythology which sees in this «return / re-entry into oneself» the principle of a conversion, to the point of presenting the « prodigal son” as the model of the convert. It is not so…! The son does not think about his father and his pain, he does not regret what he chose and did. Faced with all closed doors, he sees only one possibility: to use and exploit his father once again… The moment of conversion is still far away. It will only happen when the gratuitousness he had made fun of envelops him in a completely new way: then he won’t even need to ask for forgiveness, because the forgiveness personified by his father was already waiting for him, even before he left” (P. Farinella).

Salvation does not happen through our merits but only through the infinite mercy of God!


“The moved father ran to meet him” (Lk 15.20): according to Eastern culture, a father, or anyone exercising authority, who starts running loses his honor (Sir 19.27; Pr 19.2). Furthermore, “the son is a swineherd, he is unclean. Well, the father throws himself around his neck anyway… The father agrees to take on the filth, the impurity of the son, in order to pass on life to him” (A. Maggi).

The son begins to recite the formula of repentance that he had previously elaborated, but “the father… does not let him finish…, crazy with joy: «This son of mine was dead… and he is resurrected! He was lost… and was found! My child! My son!»” (R. Reviglio). “The Gospels make it clear that the most useless thing is to ask God for forgiveness: Jesus never invites sinners to ask God for forgiveness, because God never forgives, because he never feels offended. God is love and grants his love to everyone, regardless of their conduct. If it is true that Jesus never invites us to ask God for forgiveness, he insistently invites men to ask forgiveness from others” (A. Maggi).

The actions that the Father takes towards the prodigal son truly amaze us. The dissolute son is not only immediately readmitted into the house, but is also immediately reinstated with all his previous rights, with a true investiture rite, through three symbols: the robe, a sign of dignity, the ring on the finger, i.e. the seal , with which the son could carry out all legal and administrative acts (it was the signature on the bank account, the credit card with unlimited value, it was the check book), and the shoes, a sign of filial adoption (Dt 25,7-10 ). The prodigal son is now officially proclaimed Lord, Master, and the one who will give offspring to his father.

The reaction of the eldest son is very understandable, as he sees the remaining capital now divided in two, and that he, always faithful to work and obedience in the father’s house, will now only receive a quarter of the assets that his father had at the time. start. The eldest son feels deeply violated in his rights: if he appealed to any court against this abnormal inheritance distribution, he would certainly win the case. But the Father’s logic is not that of human justice: it is that of love, of unconditional forgiveness, of absolute grace.

The Father is also a model of Love towards his respectable and justicialist son: “The father then went out to pray to him (parekàlei)” (Lk 15,28). He takes the first step, coming out to meet him; furthermore he, who had not made any speech to his younger son when he wanted to leave, now begs and begs his eldest son to withdraw from his rigidity.

Luke does not suggest any epilogue to the story. Perhaps because he wants to remind all his listeners that each of us can be both the dissolute and sinful son and the justice-seeking brother who leaves no room for the Father’s mercy. Perhaps there are both of these dimensions in each of us.

“The first step of every conversion is precisely to review the idea we have of God: he is not a greedy and vindictive controller, but a welcoming home where we celebrate with music and dance” (D. Pezzini). “The only exaggerated “prodigal” thing here is the Father” (P. Curtaz).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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