We call it the story of the Prodigal Son. But Jesus didn’t call it that. He told a story about a man who had two sons. One seems foolish and the other looks faithful. The exploits of the younger son are relayed to us in all their hideous detail. We have every reason to boo and hiss and call the lad a fool. Getting into bad company, squandering all his money on loose living and ending up in a pigsty. Meanwhile ‘faithful Fred’, as we might call him, goes every day and works the fields and comes home to his miserable discontentedness. We think the younger son is lost when in fact both sons are lost to their father. One is a wastrel. The other is a miser. They both need saving from themselves and from their blind and foolish ways.
Russia and the West, a story of two sons. It seems to us that Russia is the wastrel, the younger son lost in its own world and its own repressive, political system. Whereas we in the West are faithful and virtuous and open and free. No one can find fault with us. How blind we can be.
It may well seem to a Russian that they are the virtuous ones, and we in the West, with all our liberal ways, are the wastrels.
We are not as virtuous as we like to make out. We need wise people to point this out to us, just as the father in the story tried to point out the important issues about being lost and found.
What is more the two sons are not only sons, they are brothers and that important bond needs to be cherished and protected despite the upsets of life. So too we are all human beings and we share the same flesh and blood, and we ought to work harder to preserve and to promote our common humanity.
This war in Ukraine can become an occasion for true soul searching for all of us, east and west, and help us to take to heart and to put into practise the lesson that the Lord puts before us today in his everlasting story of ‘the man who had two sons.’
19 March 2022