COR THOUGHTS 141: Duty, Desire and Destiny

Cor Thoughts logo

This Sunday’s Gospel is the famous story of the Prodigal Son. Based on the situation of the scribes and Pharisees to whom Christ addressed the parable, this story is meant to convict those who are convinced of their own righteousness that, in reality, they are in danger of not entering the kingdom. The older son may have never disobeyed his father’s orders, but the true nature of his father’s heart actually angered him and made him rebel. Christ is trying to show the world that entrance into heaven is not a matter of “following all the rules.” It’s a matter of learning how to redirect our desire for fulfillment toward the Father’s House (the Father’s heart). What always strikes me about the younger son is his hunger. That’s what compelled him to leave, and that’s what compelled him to return. When our hunger for fulfillment is misdirected, it leads to a life of “dissipation.” But when our hunger is squashed in favor of merely following orders, it leads to a life of dutiful legalism which can easily become self-righteousness. There may be a glorious feast right before us, but if we aren’t in touch with our hunger, we may “refuse to enter” as did the older son. And this is why, as Saint Augustine put it, “He who loses himself in his passion is less lost than he who loses his passion.” Why? Because it is precisely that hunger/passion that, when we “come to our senses,” leads us to the Father.