Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The Parable of the Lost Son
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC no. 1866) said that there are some sins which are called “capital” based on what St. John Cassian and St. Gregory had said because they engender other sins. The seven capital sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth.
And Clyde A. Bonar in his reflection on this parable of the Lost Sons, he said that the two sons commit all of the seven deadly or capital sins:
First is Pride. Parents in the past relied on their children to care for them in their old age. It was a son’s duty (Sir. 3:12). But the younger son gives no hint of promise to take care of his father when old. What is important is his share of inheritance. This is a sin of pride which is inordinate self-centeredness, arrogance combined with egotism and a clamor of self-will.
Second is Avarice. The younger son wastes what his father worked so hard to accumulate. Wasting of possessions and hoarding of possessions are two evils of avarice. We also fall under the sin of avarice because we love to have things and we love to have them just for the sake of having.
Third is Envy. The elder son might also have taken note of Sirach 30:24 which tells us that jealousy and anger shorten life! But is he jealous because his father is fussing over his younger brother or because he wishes he has been the one who has the fun of squandering the money and cavorting with prostitutes?
Fourth is Wrath or Anger. The elder son’s words: “this son of yours” shows his anger and he throws it into his father’s face with self- centered pouting. He will have to have revenge and not a party. He is full of anger and even ourselves how quick we are to get angry.
Fifth is Lust. In verse 30, the elder son accuses his younger brother of ravaging their father’s property with prostitutes. In lusting we want to gratify a craving for sexual pleasure and this is what the younger son is doing.
Sixth is Gluttony. Gluttony indicates a much greater interest in food. Isaac of Nineveh taught that when the stomach is hungry, shameful thoughts cannot enter the soul. We should eat only when we are hungry and it is better for the spiritual life to stop eating while still a little hungry. We would expect gluttony from the younger son, for gluttony and lust go together.
Seventh is Sloth or indolence. The younger son complains that “no one gave him anything.” Why is he waiting around for someone to give him something? This is a sin of sloth that is: dejection, sluggishness of mind and feeling and spirit. He has no desire to make any fundamental change in the way he lives his life.
To summarize them all, the younger son commits five (pride, avarice, lust, gluttony and sloth) of the seven deadly sins and the father says: “I still love you”; the elder son rounds out the seven by doing two (envy, wrath and even pride too) of the deadly sins and the father says: “I still love you.” All his love goes to each son.
Each of us is called to reflect on our own sins. We might ask ourselves whether we are more like the younger son or the older son. And remember that God offers us forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is up to us to accept the grace God offers us.