March 31, 2019

There’s a famous painting by Rembrandt entitled, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” Perhaps you’ve seen it. Like many of Rembrandt’s paintings the subjects are shrouded in darkness except for a flash of light that highlights the central figures. In this case, the two main figures are taken from the popular parable of “the prodigal son” from today’s Gospel (C). As you recall, the son left his family and squandered his inheritance, then returned to his home to ask for his father’s forgiveness. It’s probably one of the most memorable and touching of Jesus’ parables. In Rembrandt’s painting the disheveled and repentant son kneels at his father’s feet asking for forgiveness. The father, filled with love and compassion for his son, bends down and embraces him with both arms gently comforting him. Rembrandt baths the father and the son in a golden light, perhaps visually representing for us the grace of that moment.

The father in Rembrandt’s painting of the prodigal son is loving, forgiving, and wise, but how did he get that way? When we see him in Rembrandt’s painting he is old, with long gray beard and wrinkled brow. But how do we suppose he became loving, forgiving and wise? I imagine that he became loving by first receiving love. I imagine that he became forgiving by first receiving forgiveness. I imagine that he became wise by learning from and appreciating all of these experiences and learning from a lifetime of his own failures and his successes.

In the Eucharist we receive God’s abundant love and mercy beyond anything we could imagine. Like the prodigal son we are awestruck with gratitude and joy at God’s graciousness poured out upon us. But does the Eucharist stir our hearts to share God’s abundant love and mercy as abundantly and freely as God has shared it with us? If not, the father of the prodigal son still has something important to teach us about wisdom.

Let Us Pray

I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

(Verse before the Gospel)

Grant to me O God, your abundant love and mercy.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)


About John Christman, SSS

John Christman, SSS is a member of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the former editor of Emmanuel. He is an artist, musician and frequently writes on the topic of theology and the arts.