Prodigal Sons and Daughters
On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, from the Gospel of St. Luke, we learn the story of the prodigal son who decided to return home:
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.” -Luke 15:20-24, NAB
The prodigal son had squandered his entire inheritance. He had asked for the estate he would inherit early, and now, he was penniless again. Only after finding himself in the most dire of situations did he decide to finally return home. Sound familiar?
Many of us have been prodigal sons and daughters at one point or another. We foolishly waste the blessings given to us by God, failing to see the riches in our lives, and we do not come back again until we are in desperate need of His help.
Why do we always wait so long to turn back to God? Virtually every conversion story I have ever heard is a story of heartache. Only when our lives seem most desperate, do we finally realize the need for God in our lives.
Thankfully, regardless of what mistakes we’ve made, or how long we’ve waited to come home, the Father always accepts us with open arms. The prodigal son did not deserve such a welcome, and we, as prodigal sons and daughters, do not deserve the love God offers us either. Whether we deserve it or not, God offers it anyway.
The story of the prodigal son is really the tale of a loving father – one who would accept his child regardless of his mistakes. Our Father in Heaven loves us in the same way. No matter how far you’ve drifted, or how long you waited to come home, the Father will always welcome you with open arms.