“A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, and no one would give him any.
But when he came to his senses, he said ‘How many of my father's hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I'll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let's celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.”
This parable synthesizes all human history. It shows the initial spotless human development, the fall into sin, and finally the possibility of deliverance.
The younger son requested from his father his share of the estate and departed for a distant country. This symbolizes the spiritual germ's departure from Paradise taking with it all the gifts necessary to develop in the material world – “a distant country” – eager to obtain consciousness through experiencing until its return to Paradise as a completely developed and matured spirit.
In Paradise there are created spiritual beings whose are eternally there without the need to descend into the World of Matter in order to develop. These created beings are represented by the elder son who always lived in the House of the Father. The younger son represents the human spirit-germ which, like seeds, needs to grow and develop through external stimulus, which can only be found in the great cultivation field of the world of matter. The experiences of life on earth stimulate the germs as the sun and rain stimulate plant seeds. A small seed carries inside it the capacity to become a full fledged tree under the continuous influences of climate and other factors. Similarly, the spirit germ through multiple exposures to experiences received during earth-lives has the opportunity to transform itself into a complete self-conscious spiritual being, able to produce fruits in abundance in the spiritual homeland, Paradise, from where it originally departed.
For this reason one must take these opportunities courageously seeking improvement and getting stronger as a clad brick under the solar rays and not as a piece of wax dissolving itself under the same rays. This process is built into the seed and as a normal tendency the quality of those capacities are latent in the spirit germs – “the estate I have coming to me” – mentioned in the parable. Nevertheless the story indicates that the spirit germ planted on earth did not sprout those capacities; it developed but not spiritually. On the contrary, he “squandered his estate” and preferred “foolish living”. As a consequence, he did not develop his spiritual faculties that are latent in him but gave value only to material and perishable things. Because of this negligent behavior, his sin, he experienced great difficulties and the reciprocal effects of his errors and the errors of others like him led to the situation described as “a severe famine struck that country”. Then he started “to feed pigs” a very minor activity compared to his original mission as a human spirit in material Creation. At this point the son began seeking the “carob pods” to mitigate his starvation but got none.
This unbearable suffering awoke in him the longing for his Father's House, where many of his father's hired hands “… have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger”. In the spiritual kingdom only happiness exists, permanently enjoyed by the servants living there in a continuous giving and receiving. All receive in abundance because suffering and misery is an exclusive consequence of sin and error and cannot ever exist there. Only in very far away regions from the spiritual kingdom, such as the material world, is the occurrence of a conscious fault of a creature possible and such sins, bring as a consequence inevitable suffering and pain. The instruments provoking the sufferings can be present in multiple forms but the guilt comes always from the victim i.e. pain, misery, illness… “for we are suffering these things on our own account, because of our sins against our own God. Therefore astonishing things have happened. For we are suffering because of our own sins” (2 Macc 7:18,32).
King Antioco IV (Epifanes) recounted all that the seven brothers said, when they were being tortured by him (check Macc 7.1-17 and 7.18-42). The Prodigal Son realized all his errors, as the brothers under torture realized their own errors when they said – “we are suffering because of our own sins.” Similarly, it is written in the parable “he came to his senses”; meaning that he made a firm resolution to give up wrongdoing and to act aright from then on, in accordance with his God's Will. This implies a pardon plea before his father; “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” and “I'm no longer worthy to be called your son”. Because of this, his father forgave him and rejoiced celebrating “with a feast, because his son… was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” In other words the son was in the verge of suffering spiritual death but was reborn in time to gain eternal life. The new robe and the ring and sandals show that his soul (the spirit garment) will be purified when he stands before the threshold of the spiritual kingdom. This vivid experience proved that “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).
Pelagius, our noble friend a theologian of the fifth century, observed keenly that the prodigal son could alone and by himself repent and found the way to his father without mediation. This means that all of us can do the same without any Church mediation.
The second part of the parable, not reproduced here, describes an elder son supposedly unhappy because of the reception which the younger son received from his father (Check Luke 15:25-32). It is impossible to have any unhappiness in Paradise, where only pure joy reigns. This narration is there only to show that after his return the younger son will be as valuable as the elder; therefore, there will be no significant difference between both. After the necessary development the gifts of both sons, one in the spiritual kingdom and the other from the world of matter, will have the same capacities and the same value. This fact is indicated in the parable's beginning when the father divided his heritage equally among them.
Any human being on the verge of getting lost in the world of matter due to errors that have become manifest can, if he redirects his inner gaze to a more elevated goal, become as the son that resolved to return to his Father's House. Therefore, suffering can also be a blessing if it helps a person to change, to abandon previous wrongdoings.
Indeed, in many cases only the harshest suffering which the Law of Reciprocal Action brings automatically can shift the innermost self to a right direction. Any one who by himself returns to the House of the Father will be a cause for great happiness among the inhabitants of Paradise. It will always be a renewed joy when a son finds the road and returns to his House.
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