“…everything I have is yours.” – Lk. 15:31

The story of the Prodigal Son in today’s reading is one of the most beloved parable. Its fame may have to do with the variety of characters in the story that we may identify with: 1) the younger son who demands his share of the inheritance, squanders it, relegated to eating with pigs, has the humility to come home and ask for his father’s forgiveness, 2) the generous father who gives his younger son the freedom to love him or not, rejoices at his homecoming, and consoles the bitter, older son, 3) the older son who has been dutiful, faithful, and loyal all his life but becomes jealous of the father’s love and generosity towards his younger brother.

The father says to the older son, “Everything I have is yours.” He could have just as well said it to his younger son also. God the father certainly says it to us. “For it has pleased the Father to give you the kingdom.” – Lk. 12:32. But what does His kingdom consist of? Is it just the future blissful, eternal paradise? Or does it also include the here and now, earth and this life – a world that is filled with indescribable beauty and precious moments accompanied by unspeakable suffering, atrocities, and injustices? It is all ours, and we cannot accept one part without the other. If we are given the kingdom, how then can we be good stewards to this gift? The brothers in the Prodigal Son parable show us that being good stewards does not involve the disposition of wastefulness and bitterness. We are not called to take for granted the treasures in our lives – our health, loved ones, natural resources, etc. Nor are we to become bitter when life may seem unjust and unfair.

As Henri Nouwen wrote, we are invited to be like the father. We are to be generous, even lavish, with all that we have been given, and generosity starts with gratitude. To those who are suffering and are on the margins, the call to generosity begins with compassion. The world may never be completely free from pain and suffering, but God entrusts us with the responsibility of building and co-creating His kingdom with Him.

Heavenly Father, give us your eyes so we may see what a precious gift you have entrusted to us and your hands to build your kingdom with You.

Michael Jamnongjit

Photo Credit: Rembrandt The Prodigal Son