пятница, 18 февраля 2011 г.

SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

   Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                      19 February 1984

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Time  and  again  I  have  occasion  to  preach  on the Parable of the
Prodigal Son, on the story of the Publican and the Pharisee, and every
time I notice how easy it is for me - not in fact, not in reality, but
in  imagination - to identify with the sinner who has found his way to
God,  with  the  publican  who stood broken-hearted at the gate of the
church,  unable  to  walk even into the holy space of God, or with the
prodigal   son,   who   in   spite  of  grievous  sin,  of  incredible
insensitiveness, of cruelty, still found his way home.

And  how  rarely  I  was  touched  to  the quick by the destiny of the
pharisee, by the destiny of the elder son - yet, God condemned neither
of  the  two.  About the publican He said: And this man went home more
forgiven,  more  blessed  than  the other one. He did not say that the
pharisee  went  without the love of God accompanying him, that God was
forgetting his faithfulness, his sense of dutiful obedience.

And again today we find ourselves face-to-face with the elder son. All
his  life  he  had lived side-by-side with his father, all his life he
had  made  his  father's  interests  his concern - he had worked hard,
faithfully,  forgetful of self, without paying attention to tiredness,
without  claiming  any  reward just because he felt it was right to do
so.  There  was  something  indeed  lacking  in  him  -  a  warmth,  a
tenderness,  a  joy in his father. But there was one thing which is so
impressive  in  him  - his faithfulness; in spite of the fact that his
heart  was  not aglow, he remained faithful. In spite of the fact that
he  received  no  visible  reward  or  no  visible  acknowledgement he
remained faithful, he worked, as he says - he slaved.

How  hard we are when we think of him as of one who deserves little of
our  sympathy;  but how few of us are capable of being so faithful, so
perfectly  and steadily obedient to the call of duty as he was when we
are  not met with recognition, do not hear a word of encouragement, do
not  receive  the  slightest  reward  because,  as the father did with
regard  to  the elder son, those who surround us, those whom we serve,
for  whom we slave perhaps, those whose interest is at the very centre
of  our  life, take it for granted. Isn't it natural? Isn't he my son?
Isn't  he my father? Isn't he my brother? Isn't he my spouse? Isn't he
my  friend?  Doesn't all this imply total, unlimited devotion which is
its own reward?

How  cruel  we  are so often to the people who surround us and who are
put  by  us  in  the  position of the elder son - never recognised and
always expected to do the right thing unflinchingly and perfectly

Indeed,  the  prodigal  son had warmth, the prodigal son had come back
broken-hearted,  he was ready to become new, while the other one could
only  go  on,  plod  on  with  his stem faithfulness; unless - unless,
confronted  with  the father's compassion, he understood what it meant
that his younger brother had been truly dead and had come to life, had
been truly lost and was found.

Let  us think of ourselves. We, all of us, have someone around us whom
we  treat  with  the  same  coldness  with which we think of the elder
brother;   but   also  all  of  us  have  someone  whom  we  treat  as
contemptuously  and  harshly  as the elder brother treated his younger
brother  whom  he  had  written off, who was no brother to him; he had
been  unfaithful  to  their father, he was unforgivable. And yet, here
was  the  father, the victim of the son's rejection, light-mindedness,
cruelty, who forgave wholeheartedly and tenderly.

Let us find our own place in this tragic and beautiful parable because
then  we  may  find our way, either out of being the elder son, though
perhaps  so  much  less  dutiful,  so  much  less honest, so much less
devoted to the interests of our father, our friends, our relatives; or
else  perhaps,  can  we  find in our heart a creative sympathy for the
younger  son  and learn from him first that there is never a situation
out  of  which  a  honest repentance, a turn-about cannot bring us and
that  there  is one at least - God - and probably one person, or many,
who  are  ready  to  receive us, redeem us, restore us and allow us to
begin a new life together - father, younger and elder brother. Amen.

 * All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

3rd  International  Conference  dedicated  to  Metropolitan Anthony’s
legacy  in Moscow, September 23-25, 2011

           Metropolitan Anthony of  Sourozh Library

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