The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:1-3,11-32
Mic 7:14-15,18-20 / Psa 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.

Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” (Luke 15:1-3,11-32)

Reflection

It was not merely for the sake of the Pharisees and scribes that Jesus related His story about the prodigal son. More impor-tantly, He gave this parable so that all Christians for all generations would come 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 are converted again. He said, “There will be rejoicing in heaven among the angels of God over one repentant sinner”(Lk 15:10).

This must be the most beautiful of all the parables given by our Lord Jesus. As in the others, the message encompasses all generations of man’s history, 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 younger sibling. But best of all was the father. He was a wise man, successful in his enterprise, 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. Perhaps 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 sinful ways. God’s love is deeper 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?

Lord, You have elevated us to Your glory and kingship by inviting us even in our sinfulness, in the name of love. You took a big gamble not only in becoming a man (vulnerable to temptation), but in offering us a place in Your divinity. Your kind of mercy is fathomless, too deep for our understanding. Amen.

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