Click here for
ST JOSEPH FEAST 19th March 2007
Fourth Sunday of Lent - 2007
Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)
was a disobedient child. His parents, quick to notice
his behavioural traits at an early age, cautioned him
about his temper and his disobedience. ‘Listen to what
we say’, they told him, ‘because we love you and know
what is best for you’. The pleas fell on deaf ears as
John hardly listened, choosing to do as he pleased,
openly flouting the orders of his parents. Soon the
surly and disobedient ways were being manifested at
school, and after many warnings, stern action was
brought against him. John was reprimanded and asked to
parents, models of good behaviour and etiquette in their
middle class society, were stung at first. Their only
child was turning into a misfit and nothing seemed to
work in making him change. Soon they were warning him to
change his ways, or else they would cut him off.
Orthodox as they were, and steeped in ‘old world
values’, they could not stomach his wanton ways, his all
night partying and his set of non-descript friends. John
argued that it was his life. His parents countered that,
while it was true, he had a responsibility towards it.
one day, after an inordinately bad mouthed episode,
John’s parents’ patience snapped. John was given 24
hours to leave their house and make his own
arrangements. John as was his wont, argued back. This
was as much his house, he had a right to stay, and no
matter what they said and did, he was staying put. His
parents of course, had recourse to the law – and despite
the heaviest of hearts, called in the police to evict
their only son. Neighbours got into the act. The parents
were harsh, some said. Others argued that the son
deserved it. John himself was livid. ‘This is my house’,
he said ‘and I have a right to stay here and do as I
please’. The parents of course, were adamant and would
hear nothing of the kind. They expected apologies and a
willingness to toe their line, not claims about the
house. They got their way, and John got shown the door.
Friends, the story above is relevant in the context of
the various situations we find ourselves in – at work,
at home, in our places of worship, and in society, we
being at home become prodigals. Often, far too
often, we get so involved in contributing or doing or
participating that we seem to feel the institution or
association, or family needs to treat us differently.
Sometimes we act and behave as if we are bigger than the
family itself. We needn’t look far for examples in the
environs in our office and places of work. If we don’t
get a promotion, it’s the boss who is to blame – and our
right to sulk and ‘go slow’. If we get what seems a raw
deal to us, we take out our frustration by the
‘indiscriminate use of resources’ – of the kind we would
never consider doing if they belonged to us. In crowded
trains, as hordes of people jostle for space, we sit as
if the seats belong to us. And at home, we go to war to
get our points of view in. Church is no different.
Choirs are wont to demand special treatment, almost like
spoilt children. Lectors and church helpers seem to feel
its their right to have places reserved for their kith
and kin at important services. After all they are
‘contributing so much’. And pastoral helpers seem to
feel its their unchallenged right to confer at will,
mindless of the fact they are disturbing the faithful.
And what about the latter? It is their right to come in
at any juncture during service! It is their right to
wear clothes they like, irrespective of whether they are
distracting others! And it is their right to challenge
the clergy on issues they don’t see eye to eye on.
Gospel passage bears similarity among other parables: “The
Lost Sheep” - Lk 15:3-7; “The Lost Coin” - Lk 15:8-10;
“The Prodigal Son” - Lk 15:11-32
it is commonly called “The Prodigal Son” (prodigal
meaning “wasteful”)... It can rightfully be called the
parable of “The Loving Father”; for it reveals
more about the love of the father than of the sinfulness
of the younger son; The parable also reveals much about
the heart of the unforgiving elder son, whose purpose in
this parable is to rebuke those unwilling to reach out
and receive the lost who repent; [Let’s begin our study
of this “pearl and crown of all the parables” by reading
it in its entirety, and then examining its major
features (please read Lk 15:11-32)...]
Prodigal Son at Home
Just reflect this parable on the reverse manner. Think
of yourself, how you have been behaving with your
colleagues, companions, your life partner, how you have
treated them? Using them to the maximum for your own
benefit? Don’t you think that you have become a
prodigal at home, spending ruthlessly the resources
of your home? And at times spending also the patience of
your own family members? This happens often in our
homes, we just take things for granted, we spend, we ill
treat, we are lazy, we use the kindness and simplicity
of our parents, even at times mocking them, paining
them, not listening to them, rather friends who use you,
waste you money and wealth after celebrations and
useless outings? Sinful we are, but we try to hide that
sinfulness, just demand our rights, and then also accuse
others who are weak and vulnerable.
Prodigal away from Home
This is a reflection to those who are
away from home. The prodigal son realized the love,
warmth and comforts he was enjoying at home. Home Sweet
Home is the best home. You may be listening to me. Well,
what is being away from home? We really miss home,
people whom we love, people who appreciated us and
people with whom we spent time. Perhaps we are away from
home for work, earning money, to support our family, but
we need to come to our own senses, that whatever we do
it is for our own people. Like the prodigal son, we need
to enter into ourselves and ponder the good things the
home gives us. No matter you may be a manager, CEO
(Chief Executive Officer), you are just a human being of
love at home. Pondering strengthens us.
Today spending money has become a
fashion. Spending money after getting electronic
gadgets, which are perhaps used just for time pass?
Using mobile phones when it is absolutely not necessary?
younger son asks his father to give him his portion of
the inheritance due him. According to the Law of Moses,
the eldest son received a double portion - cf. Deut
21:17. Since there were two sons, the younger son would
receive one-third. Like so many impatient young people
today, the younger son... desired to be free from
parental restraints, desired to have his father’s
inheritance “now”. The father grants him his request,
and the younger son soon takes all that he has to a
distant country. Today’s society is filled with such
young people, who want to be free, want to spend and
unfortunately become paupers within no time because
they listen too much to their friends than their
parents. They become conscious only when they lose
everything, even their health and talents.
The Prodigal Father
The Father of those two sons suffered a
lot. He was practically sandwiched between them. On the
one hand he had to accept his lost son and on the other
he had to convince the other righteous son. What a task.
This happens to many of our parents, who are sandwiched
between or among their children. They have to face all
types of hatred, anger, jealousy, competition among the
children as they grow. Yet these parents are heroes
because they never give up as genuine parents, they will
love all those good and bad ones, a reflection of the
Prodigal’s Return Home - Lk 15:20-32
Warmly welcomed by his father - Lk
15:20-24. Carrying out his resolution, the prodigal son
returns home. While still a great way away, the father
sees him (had he been looking for his son?). The
father’s great love is immediately evident... He has
compassion. He runs to greet his son. He throws his arms
around his son’s neck. He kisses him. The son quickly
confesses his sin, and his unworthiness to be called a
son. But before he can even say “Make me one of
your hired servants”, the father joyfully calls
upon his servants to...a) Bring out the best robe and
put it on him; b) Put a ring on his hand, and sandals on
his feet; c) Kill the fatted calf in order to celebrate
his return. Because 1) “for this my son was
dead and is alive again”. 2) “he was lost
and is found”. Certainly any parent can relate to
the emotions expressed by this father!
The Key Lessons
Our heavenly Father loves His
children: irrespective of your talents
Even when they turn away from Him,
His hearts yearns for them in love
But especially when they return with
a penitent attitude: he celebrates
There is “joy in heaven” - Lk 15:7
There is “joy in the presence of the
angels of God” – Lk 15:10
It was right to “make merry and be
glad” - Lk 15:32
The faithful children of God need to understand the
proper way to receive the erring child who returns
to God – church, community, family and society.
Not with any sibling jealousy, but
with joyous celebration! - Lk 15:32
With a strong reaffirmation of love:
As illustrated by the father in the parable; and as
Paul instructed the Corinthians in 2 Co 2:6-8.
How to Return to the Father?
As we are in the season of Lent I
encourage you to make a serious effort to draw closer to
the Lord. We come closer to the Lord by turning our
backs on sin. How do we stop sinning? I would like you
to think about this. We have many desires/feelings.
Not every desire/feeling is good, some would lead us to
do bad things. There is an attitude around now that you
should follow your desires/feelings and enjoy life. But,
as I said, not every desire/feeling is a good
desire/feeling. So to stop sinning and come closer to
the Lord, stop following desires/feelings that give you
joy now but are wrong and leave you feeling guilty
later. That means, of course, being able to discipline
First type of returning to the Father is to
discipline ourselves: It is a real help in
disciplining ourselves if we also discipline our bodies
by fasting a little during Lent. Every time you feel
hungry, don’t worry, you won’t die of hunger. You don’t
need to stuff yourself immediately.
Second type of returning to the Father through
We discipline ourselves by giving money to Third World
Aid Agencies during Lent. We can also discipline
ourselves by helping others instead of passing by
Third type of returning is praying: If you have
been neglecting to pray properly, make a serious effort
to pray for a substantial period every day. Five
minutes is not enough, twenty minutes is only for
starters. I believe all Christians are called to spend
a substantial amount of time each day in prayer.
who are well do not need a physician, but those who are
sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but
sinners, to repentance.”
ST JOSEPH FEAST 19th March
came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find
his 5-year old on waiting for him at the door.
"Daddy, may I ask you a question?"
DAD: "Yeah sure, what is it?" replied the man.
SON: "Daddy, how much do you make an hour?"
DAD: "That's none of your business. Why do you ask
such a thing?" the man said angrily.
SON: "I just want to know. Please tell me, how much
do you make an hour?"
DAD: "If you must know, I make Rs.100 an hour."
the little boy replied, with his head down. Looking up,
he said, "Daddy, may I please borrow Rs.50?"
father was furious, "If the only reason you asked that
is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or
some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to
your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being
so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the
The man sat down and started to get even angrier about
the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such
questions only to get some money?
After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and
started to think:
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with
that Rs.50 and he really didn't ask for money very
often. The man went to the door of the little boy's
room and opened the door.
"Are you asleep, son?" He asked.
"No daddy, I'm awake," replied the boy.
"I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you
earlier," said the man.
"It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on
you. Here's the Rs.50 you asked for."
The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
"Oh, thank you daddy!" He yelled.
Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some
crumpled up bills. The man, seeing that the boy already
had money, started to get angry again. The little boy
slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his
"Why do you want more money if you already have some"
the father grumbled.
"Because I didn't have enough, but now I do," the little
"Daddy, I have Rs.100 now. Can I buy an hour of your
time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to
have dinner with you."
Making time for others, as Joseph did towards Mary and
Jesus is the message for today’s Feast
Welcome to today's celebration of the
Holy Mass that commemorates the Feast of Saint Joseph,
the husband of Mary. Saint Joseph, a descendant of King
David, was the adoptive Father of the Child Jesus. As
most of you are aware, the Holy Bible does not tell us
very much about the life of St. Joseph as the husband of
Mary. Beyond the twelfth year of Jesus, we know nothing
about his life.
From the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that
St. Joseph was engaged to be married to the Virgin Mary.
[Mt. 1:18; Lk 1:27] Before they were married, he learned
that Mary was pregnant. [Mt. 1:18] Being a just man, not
to cause a public scandal, he was willing to send Mary
away privately. [Mt. 1:19] While reflecting upon this
action, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and
told him that Mary's child was of the Holy Spirit. [Mt.
1:20] When Joseph awakened from his dream, he obeyed the
angel and took Mary as his wife. [Mt. 1:24]
From the Gospel of Luke, we learn that in
the days of Caesar Augustus, Jesus was born in
Bethlehem, the city of David, Joseph being of the house
and lineage of David. [Lk. 2:1-7] Returning to the
Gospel of Matthew, when the Child was born, as was the
custom of Jewish fathers to do so, Joseph gave the name
of Jesus to his adopted Son. [Mt. 1:25] The Gospel of
Luke also tells us that when the shepherds visited Baby
Jesus who was lying in a manger, Joseph was present with
Next, we learn that when Jesus was about
two years old, the angel of the Lord came again to
Joseph in a dream. He told Joseph to flee to Egypt with
Jesus and Mary because Herod was looking for the young
Child to kill Him. [Mt. 2:13] Joseph immediately
departed with Jesus and Mary [Mt. 2:14] and dwelled in
Egypt for some time. [Mt. 2:15] Once more the angel of
the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and told him that he
should return to the land of Israel because Herod had
died. [Mt. 2:15, 19-21] Joseph took the Holy Family and
moved to a city called Nazareth.[Mt. 2:23]
From the Gospel of Luke, we also learn
that when Jesus was presented to the Temple as the
Jewish custom required, both Joseph and Mary marveled at
what Simeon said about the Child. [Lk. 2:33- 4]
Further in the Gospel of Matthew, we
learn that Joseph was a carpenter. [Mt. 13:55] From the
Gospel of Mark, we learn that Jesus was also a
carpenter. [Mk. 6:3] As such, Joseph must have spent
many years teaching the trade of carpentry to his Son,
such beginning during the youth of the Child Jesus.
Next, we learn that every year, Joseph
and Mary went to Jerusalem for the festival of the
Passover. On this occasion, Jesus was twelve years old.
[Lk. 2:41] Having returned a day's journey towards home,
Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with any of
the relatives. [Lk. 2:43-4] They returned to Jerusalem
to look for Jesus. [Lk. 2:45] When they found Jesus in
the Temple, Mary told Him, "Child, why have you treated
us like this? Look, your father and I have been
searching for you in great anxiety." [Lk. 2:48]
In the Gospel of John, we learn that when
the disciples referred to Jesus, it was stated that He
was "Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." [Jn. 1:45] This
is an account of all the verses regarding Saint Joseph,
the husband of Mary, that are found in the Holy
From all of these biblical passages, we
learn that through St. Joseph, of the lineage of king
David, the kingship of the Lord Jesus was established as
the King of kings. Saint Joseph, a king himself without
a crown, was a just man and a carpenter by trade.
Whenever the angel of the Lord came to
him, he immediately submitted himself in obedience to
the Divine Will of our Creator, God Almighty. Joseph was
a man who was very fond of his adopted Son Jesus, loving
Him as his own biological son. We can perceive this
fatherly love when he and Mary found Jesus at the
Temple, at which time Mary said that both of them
searched with great anxiety. Considering that twelve
years earlier, King Herod wanted Jesus dead, we can just
imagine what went through the mind of St. Joseph while
Jesus was missing. Did he fear that Jesus was dead? Did
he fear that he had failed God by not watching over
Jesus more closely? These personal thoughts of Saint
Joseph, we shall never know.
Based on what is known of Saint Joseph,
it becomes clear that while his calling was of a very
great magnitude, to care and protect the Virgin Mary and
the Child Jesus, it was also a very humble calling of
one who remained in the background. The message we get
from the life of Saint Joseph is that we should always
focus our eyes on the Lord Jesus, not on a man.
Today, as we reflect upon the life of
Saint Joseph, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bless us
with his virtues. In St. Joseph, among other virtues, we
can identify love, a just and righteous man, chastity,
caring, sharing, obedience, submission, humility,
protecting, all what is necessary to entitle us to shine
as a brilliant light in the world. Above everything else
giving time to share with our family members and most
importantly time with our life partner and children. We
come to know this in the life of Jesus from above
passages quoted and explained. This will be also theme
of the main homily on the Feast day and remember,
if you do not have time for yourself, you
will not have for others, leave alone for God.
Dear friend, my
homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit
them and if you need more resources, you could contact
Let us make this ministry
fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of
joy for me and for you and help people become more aware
of its riches. You are also welcome to share your
feedback with me. Thanks and God bless.