The Prodigal Son

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
Mi 7:14-15.18-20 / Ps 103

This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life. He was lost and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.
(Luke 15:32)

Great is the mercy of our Father
Whose heart is in our deliverance
He lifts us up on His shoulder
And rejoices in our repentance.

The scribes and pharisees prided themselves in being righteous and obedient to their man-made laws, and would never associate with sinners like the tax collectors. They could not understand why Jesus welcomed these “unclean” people in His company. Jesus related this parable to show that the elder son in the story represented these self-righteous, law-abiding scribes and pharisees, while the younger son stood for the repentant sinners. More importantly, He wanted all generations to know that God, His Father is a person, Who hurts when we go astray, seeks us out when we are lost, and rejoices when we repent of our sins and undergo conversion. “There will be rejoicing in heaven among the angels over one repentant sinner” (Lk 15:10).

Reflection

The parable of the Prodigal Son must be the most beautiful of all the parables told by our Lord. Like His other parables, the message transcends all generations of mankind, and the human elements of the characters depicted are so provocative, and yet so typical. Like the brashness of the spoiled youngest son, who insulted his father by demanding his inheritance even if the patriarch was still alive, if only to satisfy his lust for travel and the good life. Or the elder son, who, like all first-borns was more responsible and upright, but more unforgiving, with his sense of justice prevailing over compassion for his humbled sibling. Best of all was the father. He was a wise man, successful in his life, and seeking only the happiness of his children. Typical of most loving fathers, he could not refuse the pleas of his son, who wanted to be on his own. Surely he was hoping in his heart that by giving him his share of the inheritance this son of his would be able to find his own niche in life, and like himself, become as successful. And like many of us, the father made the wrong decision.

Our Lord shows us in today’s Gospel how deep and unfathomable His Father’s love is for all of us, and whatever our sins may be, we will always be forgiven, as long as we just repent and turn back to Him from our wayward ways. God’s love is deeper and greater than that of any human father. For who is the father who would allow his own son to suffer and die for the sake of sinners? With this in mind, let us ponder during this time of Lent how much of God’s goodness we have squandered in the past like the Prodigal Son, so that coming to our senses, we may also go back to Him, saying, “Father, I am no longer worthy to be called your son. . .”

Lord Jesus, You elevated us to Your glory and kingship by inviting us to Your table even in our sinfulness, in the name of love. Because You are Love, You took a big gamble not only in becoming a man, but in offering us a place in Your divinity. That is why Your love and mercy is too deep for our understanding. Amen.

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