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Treasures of the Fathers: Third Sunday of the Great Lent – The Prodigal Son

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"The Grace of God" by Saint Athanasius

And that young man who went into a far country, and there wasted his substance, living in dissipation, if he receive a desire for this divine feast, and, coming to himself, shall say, ‘How many hired servants of my father have bread to spare, while I perish here with hunger!’ and shall next arise and come to his father, and confess to him, saying, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am not worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired servants’–when he shall thus confess, then he shall be counted worthy of more than he prayed for. For the father does not receive him as a hired servant, neither does he look upon him as a stranger. But he kisses him as a son, he brings him back to life as from the dead, counts him worthy of the divine feast, and gives him his former and precious robe. So that, on this account, there is singing and gladness in the paternal home.

For this is the work of the Father’s loving-kindness and goodness, that not only should He make him alive from the dead, but that He should render His grace illustrious through the Spirit. Therefore, instead of corruption, He clothes him with an incorruptible garment; instead of hunger, He kills the fatted calf; instead of far journeys, [the Father] watched for his return, providing shoes for his feet; and, what is most wonderful, placed a divine signet-ring upon his hand; whilst by all these things He begot him afresh in the image of the glory of Christ. These are the gracious gifts of the Father, by which the Lord honors and nourishes those who abide with Him, and also those who return to Him and repent.

"Leaving God" by Saint Ambrose

Appropriately, he who departed from the Church squanders his patrimony. Surely, whosever separates himself from Christ is an exile from his country, a citizen of the world. But we are not strangers and pilgrims, but we are fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God [Eph. 2:19]… We too were in a distant land as Isaiah teaches, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;" [Is. 9:2]…

This [famine] does not speak of a famine of fasts but of good works and virtues. What hunger is more wretched? Surely, whoever departs from the Word of God hungers because ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." [Luke 4:4]. Fittingly, he began to be in want, he who abandoned the treasures of wisdom and the knowledge of God and the depth of heavenly riches. Therefore, he began to want and to suffer starvation, because nothing is enough for prodigal enjoyment…

He is sent to the farm bought by the man who excused himself from the kingdom. He feeds swine, those, indeed, into which the devil sought to enter, which were cast into the sea of the world as they lived in filth and foulness [Mt. 8:31, 32].

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