Even though floods can wash away all houses and fields, making people empty-handed, they cannot wash away their dignity.

Even if the fire burned down many streets and villages, taking away all people’s property, it could not destroy human dignity.

Although calamity and tribulation can take away some of a person’s members and make them disabled, they cannot take away their beautiful qualities.

Nothing from the outside can degrade or devalue a person, but only sin and sin alone can destroy their dignity. Jesus affirms this: “For from within, from man’s heart, come evil intentions: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, extravagance. All these evil things come out from within, and defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

The story of the second son in today’s Gospel illustrates how sin corrupts human dignity. After demanding to divide his inheritance and squander his fortune with prostitutes, the younger son fell into extreme hunger, so he had to apply for a job as a swineherd, the most disgraceful profession for the Jews. No picture describing the state of degradation and degradation of dignity is better than the image of a miserable starving man; jostling with filthy pigs, hoping to eat their food, but no one will give it. It was a sin and sin alone that can cause such a catastrophic decline in human values.

But also, through today’s Gospel, Jesus opens up a horizon of hope for us: those who have been devalued by sin can be restored their dignity by turning to God. It’s lucky and happy for us sinners!  Once we fall into sin, lose all our dignity as a son and daughter of God… Then we must try and resolutely convert. It will possibly help us to restore our former beauty.

After the younger son fell into a state of hunger and thirst, he regained his senses and resolved to return to his father’s house, to ask to be a servant. When he saw his son from afar, the father happily ran over to hug the bastard son and kiss him. Not letting the naughty son finish his apology, he ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and put them on him, put a precious ring on his hand and expensive shoes on his feet, and bring down the heifer to celebrate. …

So, from a rabid relative, a despicable and hungry pig-herder, the prodigal son became an upper-class prince with many servants. Instead of a dirty, torn shirt, he was put on the best shirt. Instead of going barefoot and poor, he was allowed to wear luxurious shoes and then wear precious rings on his hands like noble people. Instead of longing to eat at the same trough with the pigs; now he could eat with his father, with relatives, with the eyes and ears of the village, with servants.

To rise and return to the Lord is to renounce sin and vice, to unite with Christ to become a new person, a new creation as Saint Paul taught in his letter to the Corinthians “Whoever is united to Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, and the new is here.” (2C 5.17)

The opportunity to return is always available. What matters is whether we are determined to rebuild and modify our lives, to modify and improve our lives.


Our Lady of La Vang Community, Asia