“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:31-32)
The key to understanding the story of the Prodigal Son is to bear in mind that Jesus gave the story in defence of his association with those whom the Pharisees and Scribes labelled as “sinners.” It is true that birds of the same feather flock together but in the case of Jesus, it was different. While eating with Matthew and the tax collectors, Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
The story of the Prodigal Son shows us the depth of God’s compassion. As one great man said: “God is never tired of forgiving us, we are the ones who get tired of asking for His forgiveness.” God is the Father who takes more joy in seeing the sinner repent than in seeing the sinner perish. (Cf. Ezekiel 18:23). God is the Father who waits patiently for the return of his lost Son despite what the boy did in the past.
As Micah tells us in today’s first reading: “God does not retain His anger forever because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, he will tread our iniquities underfoot. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-20)
Like the prodigal son, we often think the grass is greener in the neighbours’ lawn, we feel God’s commandments are a burden and we assume we would be happier elsewhere but then all we get in the end is sorrow, tears and regret. As St. Paul clearly states, the only reward for sin is death. (Romans 6:23). No wonder the Father said to the elder brother: “this your brother was dead, and is now alive; he was lost and is found.”
As we say in the Stations of the Cross, “no matter what my past has been, I can begin anew.” God is inviting us today to rise from where we have fallen, to pick up our Cross again, to say with the Prodigal Son, “I will arise and go to my Father.” Perhaps you haven’t been to the sacrament of confession for a very long time, today is another opportunity. Examine your heart, make a firm purpose of amendment and return to God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may I never be tired of asking for your mercy. Amen.
Bible Study: Micah 7:14-20, Psalm 103 and Luke 15:1-3,11-32).