[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.’] (Lk. 15:20-24)
Recently I spoke to a young mother about this parable (the Prodigal Son) told in today’s Gospel. As I like to do, I pointed out the absurdity of the father’s forgiveness. When we see the seemingly irrationality of Jesus’s parables we can begin to see how incredibly radical His self revelation of God really is.
Jesus uses this parable to illustrate God’s love and forgiveness for us. We, like the son, don’t deserve it and in no way can earn it. However Jesus also shows us the warped sense of justice we are plagued by as Americans. “He did something wrong. He needs to be punished. It is not fair for you to forgive him.” It is these sentiments that can really upset us about this parable. How and why did the father forgive his son who had wished his death?
As I posed this question to the young mother, she looked at me and said, “Well yeah Fr., the father’s actions make sense. As a parent, of course I would want my kid back.” She’s right, God offers us His forgiveness not because we deserve it or earned it, but because He wants His kids back!
Perhaps you’ve experienced similar emotions toward your own children. The comforting thing about the Prodigal Son parable is that Jesus assures is that Our Heavenly Father feels the same unconditional love and more for us, His children.
Spend some time reading this parable with you family (Lk. 15:11-32). Listen to what God is telling you and your family.