A few weeks ago, I visited Year 5 at St Joseph’s Primary School to speak about the Parables of Jesus in the light of social justice for the poor. I told the class that most of the parables could be interpreted as the call to be generous. I spoke about the Good Samaritan. Even though I did not say it I also thought about the Parable of the Rich Fool which was the subject of our Sunday Gospel reading a few weeks ago.
I said to the class that even the Parable of the Prodigal Son, although we usually talk about it as a Parable of forgiveness, could also be classified as a Parable of generosity. The reason is the decision to forgive is an act of generosity particularly when the other person is aware of having done something wrong and does not apologise.
This Sunday’s Gospel, which includes the Parable of the Prodigal Son, speaks about the generosity of God in three ways.
Firstly, in the person of Jesus Christ, who eats with sinners and tax collectors. This is even though this act would have done irreparable harm to his reputation.
Secondly, it is present in the father who is outside the house and runs to his son the moment he comes into view. This is in the face of all the wrongdoing the son had done.
Thirdly, the generosity of God is again seen in the father, who leaves the comfort of the house and the party to be present to his elder son. This is despite the fact he would have known this encounter was going to probably be unpleasant, which it was.
All three ways illustrate the generosity of God who is prepared to go “outside” and meet people where they are at.
How generous are we? How prepared are we to leave our comfort zones and go “outside” to reach out to people even though our gesture may not be appreciated? Are we happy to be generous even though we may not get anything in return?