Homily of St Ambrose, Bishop, on Luke 15:11-32
You see that the divine patrimony is given to those who ask for it. Do not attribute blame to the father, because he gave to the younger son.
In the kingdom of God there is no feebleness: neither is faith weighed down by years. Certainly he judged himself fit to have it, since he asked for it. And indeed, had he not left his father, he would not have found his age a hindrance. But, after he had left his father’s house, and gone abroad into a far country, he began to be in want. Truly, then, he has wasted his patrimony, who has deserted the Church.
Severed, not by countries, but by his own ambitions
He took his journey into a far country. No man can go farther than away from himself, when separated from the saints, not by tracts of land, but by his own dispositions; severed, not by countries, but by his own ambitions; and thus to be cut off from them, as it were, by an intervening sea of worldly passion?
Cut off by an intervening sea of worldly passion
For indeed, he who separates himself from Christ, is an exile from his native land; he is a citizen of this world. But we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. For we who were afar, are brought near by the blood of Christ. Let us not look askance at those returning from that far country; we, too, once dwelt in a distant land, as Isaiah teaches. For you have these words: “They who sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen to them.” Therefore, this far-off region is the shadow of death.
Let us not look askance at those returning from that far country
But we, to whom Christ the Lord is as the breath of our nostrils, we live in the shadow of Christ. And, therefore, the Church says: “I desired him and sat down under his shadow.” This man, then, living riotously, wasted all the beauty of his nature. And you who have received the image of God, who bear his likeness, waste it not by brutish foulness. You are the work of God; say not to a block of wood: “You are my father”; lest you take upon yourself the likeness of a block of wood, for it is written: “Let them become like to them.”
– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964