Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation… Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him… But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'” (Lk 15, 11-13. 17-20. 30-32)
This parable gives a clear basis for a reflection on relationship in contrast to desire for wealth. There is a happy family that exhibits a beautiful relationship between a father and his sons. But one of the sons desires for wealth. And this breaks the relationship. The younger son chooses wealth to relationship and that is why he takes the wealth and moves away from the family. (The other son lives in relationship with his father but ha also has a longing for wealth). The younger son thinks that wealth will give him all that he longs for. Wealth leads him only to the pigs (animals). Any life without relationship is equal to animal life. A life without relationship does not give him satisfaction and fulfillment. Every human being longs for a life of relationship. That is why he looks back to his earlier life, a life with his father and family. When he returned to his home the relationship is re-built and the family regains its happiness and there is rejoicing and celebration.
So, a family is built on relationship and not on wealth. Desire for wealth will only divide the family and the wealth will lead to animal life.
Relationship is built only on relationship
He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else… I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Lk 18, 9.14)
A beautiful parable. Simple story with a profound message.
These two persons go to the temple: the same place.
They go to pray: both of them
They pray to the same God.
So, the place is same, the God whom they address is same, and their action (prayer) is same.
Only their attitude is different and hence the content of their prayer is also different.
The justification comes from their attitude. The reward is also given to the attitude. And the prayer is also heard according to their attitude.
So, neither the place (temple), nor the amount of words that one uses in prayer, nor the number of times one fasts, nor the amount of money (tithes) that one gives to the temple are important.
But, the attitude with which one approaches God, and the attitude one has towards his neighbour, is what is important.