Homily: Eating Pig Pods – and loving it

Homily on the Prodigal Son
St. Luke 15:11-32
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

A Metaphor on Food

  • One of the best ways to understand sin is as those things that damage our health [explain].  
  • We were made so with feedback loops so that we could diagnose the things we had been eating that were causing us harm [explain].  
  • Imagine a world where we had short-circuited the feedback loop so that we did not really notice the damage bad food and health habits were doing to us.
  • Moreover, imagine a world where we had engineered things so that we not only craved unhealthy food and then subsidized them (made them cheaper) so that such cravings were easily satisfied.
  • What would happen to the health of a population in such a system.

We don’t have to imagine, do we?  In America, we are suffering tremendously from just such a system.  Unhealthy food is engineered to taste great and subsidized so that it is the normal choice for most of us.  And look at the consequences – most of us are overweight, and a substantial minority are obese.  And this starts early.  But instead of being heartbroken and repentant at what we have done to ourselves, instead of rededicating ourselves to a healthier way of life, we recreate the world so that it indulges and supports us in our sickness.

To go back to the parable of the Prodigal Son, we are eating the pods of the swine – and loving it.  We are as happy with these empty pods as a pig in mud.  In the parable, the younger son recognized the damage he had done to his health.  He repented and turned back.  If nothing else, his belly woke him from his stupor.  But what if it had not?  What if his society and his pride had woven an illusion over him, convincing him that he was neither hungry nor sick.  What could have awoken him to the seriousness of his situation?

I worry that this describes our world all too well.  We have all but removed the most obvious consequences of our poor decisions (the feedback loop) and made ourselves victims of those we haven’t. We do not take responsibility for our actions because we see nothing wrong – or at least nothing that is a consequence of our own mistakes.  Great Lent is designed to wake us from this dangerous dream, to help us recognize not only the many compromises we have made but also the affect these have had on our own health and the health of our community.  The Lord warns us, through His apostle Paul; “For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Today’s epistle about the danger of sexual immorality hits the mark – this is another area where our culture and our pride conspire to set us all up for failure.  But there are so many other ways.  Even more obvious sins like theft have become routinized and so commonplace that there is no shame felt despite the fact that so many ipods are full of stolen music and computers full of pirated software and movies.

Even those of us who manage to follow the Ten Commandments and avoid all the temptations this world throws at us, there remains the sin of the older brother.  The one who, though technically blameless, has lost his soul to bitterness and selfishness.

Yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We have all compromised.  We have all sinned.

But the great part of the story is that all that is behind us now.  Today we have repented and turned back to our Father.  And here He is running to meet us.  Let the music and the hymns of the Liturgy be as His arms enfolding us.  He has killed the fatted calf and prepared a feast for us.  Blessed Communion awaits.

Glory to God that despite our many shortcomings and pride, He welcomes us home with open arms.