On occasion of the Holy Year of Mercy, the seminarians propose an exhibit on the Parable of the Prodigal Son to pilgrims who come to Rome during the Jubilee Year

The parable of the prodigal son “is the word of Jesus that has carried the farthest./ It’s the one that’s had the greatest luck/ Temporal Luck. Eternal Luck./ It has awakened in the heart a certain point of resonance /A special resonance” (Péguy). In these last weeks we have immersed ourselves in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke in order to learn from Jesus what mercy is. We are at the doorsteps of the Extraordinary Jubilee called upon by Pope Francis: what better way to enter more deeply into this mystery of love and forgiveness that is God himself?
Following the masters we love most, Ratzinger, Lepori and St. John Paul II, we set the parable before us and studied it at length, looking at the meaning of each word and trying to identify ourselves with what is told. The desire was to discover something more of the heart of Christ. The idea was thus born to put together an exhibit that would be presented to all pilgrims that make their way through our house during this Jubilee year, in order to share a part of the journey together. With some seminarians, we put together an itinerary that, starting from the Gospel text, might shed some light on the mystery of evil and forgiveness, the drama of man in search of a freedom without limits, the depths of the love of God and the beauty of communion.
We ourselves were struck by the richness of this parable: while retaining its simplicity, it witnesses to a profound gaze on the most intimate reaches of human nature. Furthermore, the thought of Fr. Giussani and some works of literature allowed us to deepen the gaze of truth and charity, of which only Jesus is capable, in front of the misery of man. But what is this “special resonance” that, according to Péguy, only this parable “awakens in the heart”? It speaks to us of the heart of a father, the heart of God, always celebrating and full of joy. A heart that truly loves, gives itself without measure because it knows that true love, precisely in giving itself, loses nothing but rather grows. The father gives all of himself, he gives his fatherhood: Everything I have is yours (Lk 15,31). He desires this same heart for his sons, notwithstanding their betrayals. He is glad and rejoices when, like the prodigal son, we let ourselves be embraced by him after we recognize our need and our sin.
This is what we all search for: the possibility of walking the same path as the prodigal son, certain of having such a father. God looks for us, he always waits for us, and our conversion is a source of joy for him. This is so true that the parable “is famous even among the impious./ It has found, even with them, a point of entry./ Alone perhaps it has remained driven into the heart of the impious/ like a nail of tenderness” (Péguy).
This exhibit responds to a great desire of ours: to welcome many of our friends and to talk to them in a simple manner about what the reading of the Gospel gives birth to among us. What moves us is the desire to communicate a life: that life so well described in the Word of God, which becomes flesh in the communion among those who listen to it. We are certain that the parable of the prodigal son is an invitation for everyone to rejoice at the gift of faith, to rejoice in the toils of conversion. Our exhibit is a small attempt that goes in this direction.
Thomas Hart Benton, «Going Home», 1934.

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