The Descent of the Prodigal Son
“Prodigal” comes from the Latin word, prodigus, meaning “wasteful.” Adam, immature and ungrateful, greedily sought a greater inheritance from the Father, eating of the fruit of the “knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 3). Fallen, afraid and ashamed, Adam wasted his inheritance of the peace and joy in the Garden for a lie by Satan. Disinherited by the Original Sin of Adam, Man became a race of prodigals, wandering alone in the world, alienated from God and at war with each other, tormented by Satan.
The Plague of Post-Modern Prodigals
Despite God the Father’s consistent call across the ages, legions of Prodigal Sons wander in post-modern despair. Post-Modern Man, full of self-conceit and rebellion, rejects the Father and fatherhood. Men, in growing numbers, prefer the effeminate comfort of perpetual adolescence, many ironically living in their father’s basements wasting their lives in trivial pursuits. Today’s Prodigals, many sired out of wedlock and abandoned by their “fathers”, reject or postpone the call to marriage, preferring promiscuity under the cover of contraception, abortion, pornography and self-indulgence. But the wastrel life has consequences: depression, suicide, addictions of all sorts and male loneliness are at epidemic levels. Post-modern Man is a spiritual bastard, intoxicated in Sin and utopian dreams, blindly living in a perpetually wasted state. Post-modern men are pathetic Prodigals.
The Call of the Son of God to the Prodigals
Jesus Christ is irrefutably identified as the only begotten Son of God. Jesus:
- Is embraced as the Father’s Son – “The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God wills to prepare for it over centuries” (CCC 522) to battle the Devil (CCC 394) and save Man. God the Father sends the Son (CCC 422; Gal 4:4-5). In His Own Voice, the Father calls Jesus His Son at the Baptism (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and the Transfiguration (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35) allowing numerous witnesses to hear. The Father is “well-pleased” with the Son (Matt 3:15) and instructs Man to “listen to Him” (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).
- Claims to be the Son of God – Even at the age of 12, Jesus goes to His Father’s house and says, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus clearly proclaims that He is the Son (Matt 11:27; Mark 14:61-62; John 5:25, 10:36) who has been sent from Heaven (John 3:31). Jesus has a personal intimacy with the Father, calling Him “Abba”, meaning daddy or papa (Mark 14:36), speaking directly to the Father (John 12:49). He speaks of God as “My” and not “our”, claiming a special personal relationship (Matt 6:9; John 20:17) and hidden, exclusive knowledge (Matt 11:25-27; Luke 10:21-22). Jesus confesses before His enemies that He is the Son of God (Mark 16:61-62). After the Resurrection, Jesus says He is ascending to the Father at the Ascension (John 20:17).
- Is proclaimed to be the Son of God – At the Annunciation, Gabriel proclaims to Mary that Jesus is the Son of God through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:32-35). Many proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God: the Devil (Matt 4:1-11); Nathaniel (John 1:49); Peter (Matt 16:15-16); John (John 20:31); Paul (Rom 1:3; CCC 242); the Centurion who crucified Him (Matt 27:54) and even demons (Luke 4:41). The Church has always proclaimed that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (CCC 1; 441-445), a Divine Person (CCC 262).
Jesus Christ demonstrates perfection as the Son of the Father. Jesus:
- Demonstrates Divine Sonship in miracles – Jesus radiates Divine Power (Luke 6:19; 8:44), has dominion over nature (Matt 8:26, 17:2, 27:51; Mark 5:1-11, 6:48), heals all kinds of illnesses (Matt 9:27-31; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 9:37-42), raises the dead (Luke 8:40-56; John 11:44). He transfigures Himself (Matt 17:2),is resurrected (Mark 16:6) with supernatural powers (Luke 24:16; John 20:26) including the ability to ascend to Heaven (Mark 16:19).
- Is the Obedient Son – In the Incarnation, Jesus accepts the Father’s mission of Redeemer (Gal 4:4-5). All Christ does is for the Father, embracing the Father’s commands (John 14:31) and doing the Father’s will (John 6:38, 8:29), even unto death (Phil 2:8) out of love for Man (Eph 5:2). Even dying on the Cross, Jesus remains obedient to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46).
- Emphasizes the importance of the father-son relationship – God reveals His plan for the family, by the Incarnation of His own Son to Mother Mary and Father Joseph. Referred to as the Son of God in the NT 147 times, Jesus reinforces the importance of the father-son relationship in parables: Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-11) Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32).
Jesus Christ calls all Men to become adopted sons of God. Jesus:
- Is given to Man out of love by the Father – The only begotten Son is given to Man (John 3:16) in a sign of sacrificial Love (Rom 5:8; 1 John 3:16; CCC 219) in which the Father allows the Son to taste death (Heb 2:9; CCC 624). The Father instructs Man to “listen to Him” (Matt 17:5), fulfilling a promise to send a Messiah to teach Man (Deut 18:15).
- Must be believed to be the Son of God – Only Jesus is the mediator with the Father (CCC 480) who, in Glorified Flesh, sits at the right hand of the Father (CCC 663). Only Jesus has seen the Father (John 1:18) and only Jesus can reveal the Father (CCC 151): Jesus Christ is the “one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In Him, He has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65; Heb 1:1-2); only Jesus is the divinely reliable Truth (John 14:6). Christians must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:37; 1 John 2:23) and invite Jesus into one’s life by invoking His Sacred Name (John 16:23; Phil 2:10; Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21, 3:16). Rejecting the Son of God leads to spiritual darkness, death and disinheritance (CCC 679). Without Jesus, all men remain Prodigals.
- Gives Man the ability to be adopted Sons of God – Jesus teaches the stunning Truth that Man, rather than remaining perpetual Prodigals, can become adopted Sons of the God of the Most High through Baptism (Gal 4:5; CCC 2798) and call God “Abba” (Rom 8:15, 29). For those who embrace the Cross, Jesus Christ gives Himself personally, living in each (Gal 2:20; CCC 521) and promises the inheritance of Heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4). In Christ, Prodigals can finally return to God’s home.
- Sends Man to Evangelize the whole world in His Name – Like the Father sent the Son, the Son sends Man to evangelize the world (John 20:21-23) by emphasizing the paramount nature of Fatherhood and Sonship (Matt 28:19-20). Man must evangelize in the Name of Jesus for Jesus to stand for Man in Heaven (Matt 10:32).
- Endows the Church with the Sacraments – As the Son of God, Jesus has the unique ability to forgive Sins (CCC 1441; Mark 2:5,10; Luke 7:48) that He gives to the Church (John 20:23). In the age of the Holy Spirit, Christ endows the Church with the Sacraments (CCC 1076).