Today in our Gospel from Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, we hear the famous story of the Prodigal Son. It’s a story about a father who has two sons. The younger son asks his father for his inheritance immediately. The father, being a kind and gentle man, arranges for the boy to receive his inheritance. The son then wastes it all in a foreign land. He gets a job attending swine at a neighboring farm. He suddenly realizes that he would be better off working for his father at home.
His father missed his son, and every day he would look out over the fields hoping his son would come home. One day, his son appeared in the distance, and the father ordered a great banquet to be held for him. When the boy arrived, he said to his father, “l have sinned against you and against God, and I no longer deserve any special treatment.” The father would hear nothing of this and ordered that he be dressed in a fine robe, be given jewelry, and a pair of sandals for his feet. His father forgave him for everything he did.
The older son was out in the fields, and as he approached the house, he heard the banquet. He asked a servant what was going on. The servant said your brother has returned and your father has given him a party. The older brother became very angry and refused to come into the house. His father came out and pleaded with him to forgive his brother. The older son said, “I’ve been with you all these years, I never disobeyed you. Now your son, who wasted everything, is back and you give him a party?”
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the father in the story is God. The younger son comes to his father, asking for nothing except forgiveness. He admits his sin and his father forgives him. There is great joy in God’s heart every time a sinner returns to him.
The older son and the younger son are us. Sometimes we come to God and ask Him to forgive us for our sinfulness. Sometimes we are full of hate and vengeance, demanding a sinner be harshly punished. Sometimes we come to God so jealous of our brothers or sisters that we make ourselves sick.
There is much to think about in this reading. It’s a story of jealousy, vengeance, and loving forgiveness. Which character do you play in your own life? Are you the forgiving father, the jealous son, or the boy who made a mistake and asked to be forgiven?
I think we have been all three at one time or another. Let us strive to be like the father, offering forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness. Let us also strive to be like the younger son, asking for forgiveness from those we have hurt!
Peace and All Good!