Webster's defines "prodigal" as "a person who spends his money with wasteful extravagance; a spendthrift." Having received from his father his inheritance, the Prodigal travelled to a "far country," where he recklessly wasted it on harlots and loose living. The term "prodigal," however, does not only apply to the irresponsible spending of money. As baptized Orthodox Christians, God has bestowed upon each and every one of us--as His beloved sons and daughters--an inconceivably great inheritance.
The question we need to ask ourselves is: Have we used wisely those resources and talents God has given us for the sake of serving Him as we advance toward His heavenly Kingdom, or have we squandered them in order to indulge our sinful passions and desires? The truth is, we too often have squandered the abundant grace and blessings He has so freely given us. We thoughtlessly waste the precious time that has been allotted to us for the sake of "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling" for the sake of vain and frivolous pursuits, and we scatter abroad the many opportunities God has granted us in order that we might pray fervently and grow in the Faith, that we might serve Christ and our fellow man.
So it is that we so often feel that gnawing sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness. This is a profound hunger--spiritual rather than physical--like unto the famine the Prodigal Son experienced in the far country. This happens because we have wandered so far from God, striving to receive our nourishment not at the hands of God, but rather from the dry well of worldly pleasures and occupations.
Thus it is that the Church provides for us the season of Great Lent as a time for serious reflection upon our spiritual condition, an opportunity to grow closer to God through prayer and fasting, and especially through sincere and heartfelt repentance. May we all strive to use this God-given time wisely, that through the grace and mercy of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ we might be deemed worthy to be call sons and daughters of God.