February 28, 2021

Sunday of the Prodigal Son (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)


By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

The second week of the Triodion begins with the "Sunday of the Prodigal Son". It is called this, because on it the Church brings before us the parable of our Lord regarding the "Prodigal Son". We all know it: It speaks of a rich young man who left his paternal home and went to a distant country. Their he squandered his property in prodigality, to the point where he had to graze pigs. At that point he repented, and he returned to his father, who accepted him with infinite love and affection.

Again, we record what the Horologion of our Church says:

"The Savior presented to us three things through this parable of the Gospel - the state of the sinner, the canon of repentance and the grandeur of divine compassion. It was placed here by the divine Fathers, after the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, to also instruct us, to see in the person of the prodigal our own wretched state, in as much as we roll around in our sins, in as much as we find ourselves to be far from God and His Mysteries, and finally coming to our senses, we hasten our return to Him through repentance, even during these holy days of the fast.

And something else. Because we have spent our time in these many and great acts of iniquity, frequently we come to despair, thinking that there is no forgiveness for them, and in our hopelessness we fall back into them every day and sometimes even worse than before. For this reason the divine Fathers, with the purpose of uprooting the passion of despair from our hearts, and in order to encourage us, and excite us towards acts of virtue, they prescribed this parable as we are at the brink of fasting, showing us the philanthropy and most good compassion of God through the story of the prodigal, and that there is no sin, no matter how greatly we are under it, that is able to ever defeat his philanthropic judgment."

On this day our Church invites us to chant to our Heavenly Father:

"O Father, foolishly I ran away from Your glory, and in sin, squandered the riches You gave me. Wherefore, I cry out to You with the voice of the Prodigal, I have sinned before You Compassionate Father. Receive me in repentance and take me as one of Your hired servants."

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is inexhaustible in meanings. It would not be too much to say that the whole work of the Divine Economy is in it.

My brethren! On the day of the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we all celebrate. We all have our feast. All without exception! All of us are prodigal sons, who have removed ourselves from the House of our Heavenly Father, and destroyed in our sins His gifts. Let us return therefore in repentance to the divine Embrace of our Father, and let us cry:

"Good Father, I have gone far from You, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfit for Your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the prodigal the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to You: Make me as one of Your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone are full of mercy."

Source: From the book Περίοδος Τριωδίου. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.