In the Gospel from yesterday’s Mass (Luke 15:1-3; 11-32), Jesus offers another answer to the so-called “problem of pain”; The Prodigal Son.  An excerpt:

[13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. [15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. [17] But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ [20] And he arose and came to his father.

In this parable, Jesus offers the real value of pain:

  • The Prodigal (meaning reckless, wanton) Son has dishonored his father by asking for his inheritance and then taken the inheritance and squandered it on “loose living”.
  • He is destitute, having to go to work for a Gentile, feeding swine, which was considered by Jews to be an unclean animal.
  • He is starving, so hungry that he would eat the pods that the swine eat; only problem is that he can’t even get pig food.
  • When all is lost, and he is perhaps sensing death by starvation is approaching, he finally wakes up to his sin against “heaven and [his father].”
  • He rose and went to his father.

In the rest of the story, not only does his father forgive him, but returns him to true sonship (with robes, rings and, not only food, but a fatted calf).

Jesus clearly is demonstrating that sometimes it is only in the destitution of sin that we wake up and return to Him.

Jesus also is telling us that He, the Father and the Holy Spirit are waiting.  Our redemption is the reason that there is pain.