The parable of the prodigal son is one of Jesus’ best known stories. The word prodigal can have two meanings: it can signify being recklessly wasteful and imprudent or it can denote providing lavishly and generously. In the parable we see both in the relationship between the father and son. Their union is based in repentance received in love.
The younger son symbolizes many of us so well. For various reasons we are not content with our situations. In our imaginations there exists a “far country”. If only we could get out of here and get over there things would be different. We envision freedom without any restraints or obligations and in our discontent we often miss signs that we are truly loved. By escaping we later may find we have lost the essence of what really matters.
I will rise and return to my God.
Where is your “far country”? What draws you there? Add your own reflection on the older son and the part he plays.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Jesus in effect is challenging each of us to think about how we respond to God’s invitation to open our hearts to his reconciling love and to become merciful like the father.
The pattern of the prodigal is: rebellion, ruin, repentance, reconciliation, restoration.
Edwin Louis Cole
Love never reasons, but profusely gives; it gives like a thoughtless prodigal its all, and then trembles lest it has done to little.
he only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.
All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.
Then I try to see the world through God’s eyes — the eyes of a being that is loving, compassionate, and caring. Through these eyes I look at my family and feel compassion for them. Then I feel my heart expand. And if I can keep looking through those eyes of love and compassion, perhaps I can see the world and all its people as God sees them. And, finally, I try to see myself through the eyes of that loving, compassionate God.
Wherever a heart beats with compassion: God is there.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
Forgiveness is the final form of love.
There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.
Bryant H. McGill
On this painful anniversary, we do not cease to remember those who lost their lives and those who loved them. May time deepen the precious memories, heal the sorrow, and bring peace to those who remain. May nations learn to bury their hatreds, resolve their differences, and work to live in peace.