Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Let us heed and imitate the lesson of the Prodigal Son:
I was entrusted with a sinless and living land, but I sowed the ground with sin and reaped with a sickle the ears of slothfulness; in thick sheaves I garnered my actions, but winnowed them not on the threshing floor of repentance. But I beg Thee, my God, the pre-eternal husbandman, with the wind of Thy loving-kindness winnow the chaff of my works, and grant to my soul the corn of forgiveness; shut me in Thy heavenly storehouse and save me.
Brethren, let us learn the meaning of this mystery. For when the Prodigal Son ran back from sin to his Father's house, his loving Father came out to meet him and kissed him. He restored to the Prodigal the tokens of his proper glory, and mystically He made glad on high, sacrificing the fatted calf. Let our lives, then, be worthy of the loving Father who has offered sacrifice, and of the glorious Victim who is the Savior of our souls.
-Stichera at Psalm 140 at Vespers for today.
Also on this Sunday (and the two remaining Sundays of Pre-Lent after this) at Orthros we sing Psalm 136, which sees the soul suffering as the result of sin:
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Sion. Upon the willows in the midst thereof did we hang our instruments. For there, they that had taken us captive asked us for words of song. And they that had led us away asked us for a hymn, saying: Sing us one of the songs of Sion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my throat, if I remember thee not, If I set not Jerusalem above all other, as at the head of my joy. Remember, O Lord, the sons of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem, Who said: Lay waste, lay waste to her, even to the foundations thereof. O daughter of Babylon, thou wretched one, blessed shall he be who shall reward thee wherewith thou hast rewarded us. Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock.
I love these Sundays just because of that Psalm. Shame we don't get to use it on the Sundays of Great Lent. Here are two beautiful musical settings, in English and Slavonic: