03 March 2024
The church calendar often makes one think about the symbolism of dates and the meaning of feasts. This Sunday, the Church commemorates the Gospel Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is the beginning of one of the special weeks in a year which prepare Orthodox Christians for the feat of Great Lent.The story of the prodigal son is extremely instructive. It is important for understanding and learning in all times because it is about us as well. About every man’s relationship with God. About the bitter and natural consequences of pride, blind self-confidence, and betrayal — falling, ruining oneself, pain, and suffering. This is also a story of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Finally, it is a parable about the boundless and unchanging love of our common Heavenly Father for all of us. Love which becomes a burning pain when a son falls away, but does not cease to be, and which shines with joy when he repents, for it is exactly how God accepts everyone who repents.

This parable is, in particular, about us as a people. Having received the part of the common wealth that was due to them, our people have become overwhelmed with pride, have broken away from their roots, betrayed their father, the Holy Prince Volodymyr, and his fateful choice, and have gone to a faraway country to worship foreign idols.

As a result, we have exchanged the pure gold of our traditions for a glass necklace, have squandered everything, have eaten and drunk it all away, have become impoverished, and, in fact, have fallen into slavery — hungry and ragged, scattered all over the world, drugged by the poison of lies, hatred, and propaganda, and living on foreign handouts.

The life of the prodigal son outside his Father’s house is described as miserable, sad, and hopeless. However, as the Gospel says, having painfully hit rock bottom, the prodigal son understood the depth of his fall. He remembered that even servants lived better in his father’s house. He humbled himself and decided to come back to his family so as to be at least a servant, if not a son anymore.

And what about his father? He missed his prodigal son, pitied him, and waited for him. And when he met him, he warmly embraced him, covered his tattered rags with better clothes, gifted him his expensive ring, and ordered a great banquet — for the one who had been considered dead seemed to have risen, came back, and took his place in the family again — not due to his right anymore, but due to love.

‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit’ (Ps. 33:19).
It is time to end this insanity, we have had enough of deaths and destruction! We should come round and return to ourselves — to our roots, to our traditions, to our origins, to the true faith. How to do it? Today’s Gospel parable tells us about it. However hopeless the situation may be at first sight, however horrible the sin committed may seem, we need mutual repentance, as the realisation of mistakes, as a change of mind and of the way of thinking, as a rejection of wrong views and a return to those values and traditions which have been betrayed.

We all need peace, and an overwhelming majority sincerely want it!
It is very providential that on the Monday of the Week of the Prodigal Son, we also commemorate the Holy Prince Yaroslav the Wise. This outstanding ruler, who continued the deeds of his father — the Holy Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv, the Baptist of Rus — chose the path of creation, education, the strengthening of faith, and care about the people instead of endless wars, commonplace in those times. It would be good for us to remember the words of the Holy Prince Yaroslav’s commandment: ‘Love one another, for you are brothers … If you live in love among each other, God will be with you. He will subdue to you all your enemies, and you will live in peace. But if you hate one another and quarrel, you yourselves will perish and will lose the land of your fathers and grandfathers, which they gained through their great labour.’

God grant that these words will be heard, and not only by us but also, first and foremost, by our authorities. And history will judge everyone according to his deeds, deciding who will be remembered by the posterity as Righteous and who — as Accursed.

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