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The Prodigal Son in us

Lent – Sunday 4

This parable of the Prodigal Son is considered the heart of the gospel. The younger son left his father’s home to follow his stubborn heart. Realizing his faults, he came to his senses and asked to be restored into his Father’s household, even as a slave. The father, without hesitation, receives his son.

How easy it is for us to identify ourselves with the prodigal son. Our lives are reflected in his rebellion. In one way or another, we are unfaithful children of the Father. But what about the father in this parable? What does Jesus want us to discover about him, especially in his silent ordeal of losing a son?

I have met parents who lost their children. Once, a mentally-retarded child left his home in another city, and walking, reached our parish. For a week, the parents were tormented with worry while in search for their boy. Recovering him was for them, the greatest joy of their lives.

A young man did not inform his parents that he was not returning home for the night but was sleeping over at his friend’s house. His parents did not sleep the whole night, worried and afraid, spending every moment in prayer for the safe return of their son.

You see, this is how good parents feel when they feel the loss of a child. Surely this was how the father in the parable felt when he saw his son walking away from home. The son thought that he was launching into a colorful adventure of his life. The father, however, entered into a dark night of suffering and pain. Sleepless nights, missed meals, and copious tears as he dreamt of the son’s return. A good parent endures untold pain at the mistakes of a delinquent child. But it was the goodness of the father that the son remembered when he finally admitted he was wrong.

In the parable, Jesus introduces God to us, not as cold and distant but as loving and merciful. The young man’s real sin of rebellion is ingratitude to God for the blessings lavished on him. But God is always forgiving.

How many times we, too, have failed to say the simple words “thank you” to God, our Father. How many times have we wandered off from him in our insensitivity and demands. There are also people around us whom we must appreciate for their kindness. They are always ready to help and serve us and yet we neglect to say “thank you” to them. “Thank you” – these are simple words but how they strengthen relationships.

It’s a good thing that the son learned to say : “I’m sorry.” These are saving words for him and for us too. If we have failed to say thank you, let us at least learn to say sorry. The open arms of the merciful God are waiting for us.

This Lent, may we learn to say “thank you”, to say “sorry”!