HOLY MASS HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex (Rabat) Sunday, 31 March 2019
“When he was still far away, his father saw him, took pity on him, ran to meet him, threw him around his neck and kissed him” ( Lk15:20).
Thus the Gospel places us in the heart of the parable that manifests the attitude of the father in seeing his son return: shaken in the bowels he does not wait for him to come home but surprises him by running towards him. An expected and desired child. A father moved to see him return.
But that wasn’t the only time the Father started running. His joy would be incomplete without the other child’s presence. For this reason he also goes out to meet him to invite him to participate in the feast (see v. 28). However, it seems that the eldest son did not like the welcome parties; he cannot bear the joy of his father and does not recognize his brother’s return: “that son of yours,” he says (v. 30). For him his brother continues to be lost, because he had already lost him in his heart.
In his inability to attend the party, he not only does not recognize his brother, but neither does he recognize his father. He prefers being an orphan to fraternity, isolation at the meeting, bitterness at the party. Not only does he struggle to understand and forgive his brother, he cannot even accept having a father who can forgive, willing to wait and watch so that no one is left out, in short, a father capable of feeling compassion.
On the threshold of that house the mystery of our humanity seems to manifest itself: on the one hand there was the feast for the rediscovered son and, on the other, a certain feeling of betrayal and indignation at the fact that he was celebrating his return. On the one hand, hospitality for the one who had experienced misery and pain, who had even come to smell and desire to eat what the pigs ate; on the other hand, irritation and anger at making space for those who were not worthy or deserved such an embrace.
Thus, once again the tension that exists between our people and in our communities emerges, and even within ourselves. A tension that, starting from Cain and Abel, lives in us and that we are called to face. Who has the right to remain among us, to have a place at our table and in our assemblies, in our concerns and occupations, in our squares and cities? It seems that the fratricidal question continues to resound: am I perhaps my brother’s keeper? (see Gen 4 : 9).
On the threshold of that house appear the divisions and the clashes, the aggressiveness and the conflicts that will always strike the doors of our great desires, of our struggles for fraternity and so that every person can already experience his condition and dignity as a son already.
But in turn, on the threshold of that house will shine with all clarity, without speculations or excuses that force him away, the desire of the Father: that all his children take part in his joy; that no one lives in non-human conditions like his youngest son, nor in his orphanness, isolation and bitterness like his eldest son. His heart wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth ( 1 Tim 2: 4).
Certainly there are many circumstances that can fuel division and conflict; the situations that can lead us to clash and divide are undeniable. We can’t deny it. We are always threatened by the temptation to believe in hatred and revenge as legitimate ways to get justice quickly and effectively. But experience tells us that hatred, division and revenge only kill the soul of our people, poison our children’s hope, destroy and take away everything we love.
Therefore Jesus invites us to look and contemplate the heart of the Father. Only from here can we rediscover ourselves every day as brothers. Only starting from this broad horizon, able to help us overcome our myopic logic of division, we will be able to reach a gaze that does not claim to obscure or disprove our differences by seeking perhaps a forced unity or silent exclusion. Only if we are able every day to raise our eyes to heaven and say “Our Father” will we be able to enter into a dynamic that allows us to look and dare not live as enemies, but as brothers.
“All that is mine is yours” ( Lk 15,31), says the father to the eldest son. And it does not refer only to material goods but to participate in his own love and compassion. This is the greatest legacy and wealth of the Christian. Because, instead of measuring or classifying ourselves according to a moral, social, ethnic or religious condition, we can recognize that there is another condition that no one can cancel or annihilate since it is a pure gift: the condition of loved, expected and celebrated children from the Father.
“All that is mine is yours”, even my capacity for compassion, the Father tells us. We do not fall into the temptation to reduce our belonging as children to a question of laws and prohibitions, duties and obligations. Our belonging and our mission will not come from voluntarism, legalism, relativism or integrism, but from believing people who will implore every day with humility and constancy: “come your Kingdom”.
The evangelical parable presents an open ending. We see the father praying to the eldest son to enter and participate in the feast of mercy. The Evangelist says nothing about the decision he made. Will it be added to the party? We can think that this open ending has the purpose that every community, each of us, can write it with his life, with his look and his attitude towards others. The Christian knows that there are many dwellings in the Father’s house, and only those who do not want to participate in his joy remain outside.