As we discern the deep meaning of this expression regarding a lavish disregard for using up everything available without the sense of saving or handing on to others, we consume the very products of usable resources that are freely spent.
The biblical story of the same name, found in Luke, shows how one person decided to use that term to the fullest. But, don’t we all do the same? Spending the treasures of life that are ill-gotten can be the cause of finding ourselves on the outside looking in as life’s attractions pull us away from what is pure, giving to one another without cost, and the very steps to find the love God so freely hands us.
Lent is a time when we look into the meaning of reflection towards personal sin that sent Jesus to the Cross. So why would any of us adhere to the same scenario during Advent? Because this is where the need for a Divine safety net to be established for sinners of which comprises you and me.
When mankind fell away from the blessings of eternal life each of us inherited the dreaded expression of death to all who turned away from God. Without the Incarnation, that hypostatic term of divinity taking on humanity so God could say to us; “I know what you are going through and as a man of God I now understand your plight.” God knew, but so we cannot even speculate that how can a divine understand our weakness, we have no ability to come back to God.
The Crucifixion of Christ is the total forgiveness of each of our sins. Without the personal suffering of Jesus and the total rejection from mankind, that would not have occurred. In order that God would have a full overview of the Mystery of the Incarnation to hand to you and me, God would send an angel to a virgin and ask the question from God with her response; “Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1: 38).
Because of sin, the very turning away from God, the prophets of Old were given the knowledge that this would occur in a future time on earth.
Who is a prodigal person? Each one born into the world with an attitude of seeking more for ourselves without the concern for what our neighbor who is poor could use. Thus the term selfishness was born into our vocabulary. Because of this we have all found ways to forget God and his generosity we take for granted. When we forget what giftedness we already received from God, man turned to sin for his pleasure and discovered the weight of evil that surrounds us. Thus the prodigal attitude that exists brought the sign of the Cross of Calvary into view from the beginning of time on earth.
Just like the Father waiting for his son to return, God also yearned for all of us to come back home. However, he had to initiate the manner to execute a pattern for that to happen, the Cross became the only solution. Advent invites us to relive that plan of Incarnation, the life of Jesus announcing God’s forgiveness, the suffering/death/resurrection of Christ, and the fulfillment of our Father standing on the hill watching for our return. “While he was a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Lk 15: 20). This is how much our God loves us and why Advent brings the story to a blessed conclusion.
Ralph B. Hathaway