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Today's Gospel + short theological explanation

Sunday 4th (C) of Lent

Gospel text (Lk 15,1-3.11-32): Tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, mut¬tering: «This man welcomes sinners and eats with them». So Jesus told them this parable: «There was a man with two sons. The younger said to his father: ‘Give me my share of the estate’. So the father divided his property between them. Some days later, the younger son gathered all his belongings and started off for a distant land where he squandered his wealth in loose living. Having spent everything, he was hard pressed when a severe famine broke out in that land. So he hired himself out to a well-to-do citizen of that place and was sent to work on a pig farm (...).

The freedom

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, the son travels "to a remote country". The Fathers have seen here above all the interior remoteness from God's world, the magnitude of the separation of what is proper and what is authentic. The son squanders his inheritance on bad living. He just wants to live the high life. He does not want to succumb to any precept, to any authority: he seeks radical freedom; he wants to live only for himself, with no exigencies. He enjoys life; he feels completely autonomous.

The Greek word used in the parable for the property that the son dissipates means “essence” in the vocabulary of Greek philosophy. The prodigal dissipates “his essence,” himself… In the end he has squandered everything. Those who understand freedom as the radically arbitrary license to do just what they want and to have their own way are living in a lie, for by his very nature man is part of a shared existence and his freedom is shared freedom.

—A false autonomy leads to slavery: the “totally” free man has become a wretched slave.

The human freedom is always a “shared freedom”, a "togetherness" of liberty

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today we see that human freedom is always a shared freedom, a "togetherness" of liberty. Common freedom lasts only in an ordered harmony of freedom that reveals to each person his or her limits.

In this way the gift of the Law on Mt Sinai was not a restriction nor an abolition of freedom, but the foundation of true liberty. And since a correct human ordering finds stability only if it comes from God and if it unites men and women in the perspective of God, the Commandments that God himself gives us cannot be lacking in a correct ordering of human freedom. In this way, Israel fully became a people, through the Covenant with God on Mt Sinai. Israel's encounter with God on Sinai could be considered to be the foundation and the guarantee of its existence as a people.

—Thus, we must continually pray that the Holy Spirit opens us and gives us the grace of understanding, so that we become the People of God deriving from all peoples.