Every time I read this parable of the prodigal son I remember a thought I had years ago about this powerful story of love and forgiveness. Did it ever occur to you that it took more love on the father’s part to let this head strong son of his take his share of the family farm and go off to see the world than it did for him to run down the road and welcome him home with open arms? There is a saying, ‘the years have their wisdom the days know nothing of.’ The father trusted his son would come to his senses and find his way home. In love he gave him the chance to do this.
It can be so difficult for parents to let go of their children especially at that particular time in their lives when sons and daughters are trying to sort themselves out and find their own way. Parents have had their own life experiences and feel they want to spare their sons and daughters the mistakes or poor choices they may have made in their younger days. But it doesn’t work that way. They have to stand back and let things work out in time.
I’ve mentioned before that parents are to give their children two things, roots and wings – solid foundations and freedom. There can be times in their lives when their wings carry them far away from their roots – but always remember roots are stronger than wings.
When he returned home did this chastened, embarrassed young man get what he deserved? No. To our way of thinking he should have been sent packing. He blew it. No he didn’t get what he deserved; he got what his father prepared for him, unconditional love and entire forgiveness.
The father shows the same love and understanding to the son who stayed home and worked the farm. He understands this son’s resentment and hard feelings toward his brother. The father patiently accepts this son’s rebukes to him – I stayed and slaved for and you never gave me a goat to party with my friends and here you are slaughtering a fatted calf for this loser.
This powerful gospel with its well-known parables is all about God’s love and care for all of us. Remember who we are; good people, mistake making beings struggling to live good lives. Someone once wrote ‘there are no righteous persons, only sinners and our journey as Christian men and women is always a journey of conversion, admitting our failures and opening our lives to the great love of God. We open ourselves to receive that love whenever we are conscious of this truth. God does favor sinners, and that includes all of us.
When life is over will we get what we deserve? No, we’ll get what his father has prepared for all of us, unconditional love and entire forgiveness. It’s all part of our journey back to our father’s home.