03/14/2010, 00.00
VATICAN

Pope: we contemplate the Father's heart, in the parable of the prodigal son

Benedict XVI says that the parable that reveals God as the Father of Mercy is the basis of our culture, art and civilization.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An invitation to meditate on the parable of the "prodigal son", in which we are reflected in "the two children and especially, in which we contemplate the heart of the Father. Let us cast ourselves into his arms and be regenerated by his merciful love”. This is what Benedict XVI said at the Angelus in St Peter's Square today, taking his cue from today’s Sunday Gospel, the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Luke 15, 11-32).    

"This chapter of St. Luke - explained the pope – represents a spiritual and literary high point of all time.  Indeed, what would our culture, art, and more generally our civilization be without this revelation of God the Father, full of mercy? It never ceases to move us, and every time I hear it or read it, it always suggests new meanings. Above all, this Gospel text has the power to speak of God, let us know his face, better yet, his heart. After Jesus told us of the Father's merciful love, things have changed forever, now we know God, He is our Father who created us free to love and gifted us a consciousness that suffers if we get lost and that celebrates if we return. For this, the relationship with God is built through a story, similar to what happens to every child with their parents:  at the beginning he depends on them, then he claims his own autonomy, and finally - if there is a positive development - he comes to a mature relationship based on genuine gratitude and love.  

"In these stages - continued the Pope - we can read even moments of the journey of man in relationship with God.  There is a phase that is like childhood: a religion provoked by need, by dependence.  Gradually man grows and is emancipated, he wants to free himself from this submission and become free, adult, able to regulate himself and make his own choices independently, to the point of even thinking he can do without God This phase, indeed, it is a delicate one and can lead to atheism, but this too often hides the need to discover the true face of God.  Fortunately, God never fails in his loyalty, and even if we move away and get lost, he continues to follow us with his love, forgive our mistakes and speak to our inner consciousness, to call us back to him.  In the parable, the two children behave in an opposite way: the younger son leaves and increasingly falls lower and lower, while the older son remains at home, but he also has an immature relationship with the Father, because, when his brother returns, the older son is not happy as the Father is, indeed, he grows angry and refuses to return home.   The two sons represent two immature ways of relating with God: rebellion and hypocrisy. Both of these methods are overcome through the experience of mercy. Only by experiencing forgiveness, recognizing ourselves as loved with a free love, greater than our misery, but also of our justice, will we finally enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God. "

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