New International Version (NIV)
20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
How does God the Father feel about us?
The parable of the prodigal son is really a story about a Father’s heart. Jesus tells the story of two sons. The first, who asked and was given his father’s inheritance in advance, took the fortune and squandered it, while living a sinful existence, and eventually wound up eating from a pigsty. The second son was dutiful, stayed by his father’s side and followed all the rules, expecting to inherit great things in return.
The scripture says the first son “came to himself” and realized how foolish he had been to leave home and live so irresponsibly. He humbly returned home, fully expecting to become a servant at his father’s place.
Imagine his surprise when he was greeted by his father with open arms – with words of forgiveness and celebration. His brother was furious at his father’s reaction and felt angry and confused. Why the celebration? Why not celebrate him – the son who had followed the rules and done everything the “right” way? To focus on the “good” son is missing the point.
I believe this story is really about our Father and all of his children. Jesus tells us how God feels about each of us, regardless of our failures or wastefulness of the gifts he gives us. He tells us that God loves us no matter what we may do. When we admit our failures and shortcomings, God will embrace us with his powerful love. Yes, we may feel guilt and shame, but that is not God’s attitude to us – for he sent his son Jesus here to die for our sins. Much like the father in the story, our Father is always looking our way and waiting for us to come home to his open arms. Can we strive to be like the first son, and take an honest look at ourselves and our shortcomings? And can we remember to be humble each day and seek our Father’s grace and love?
Prayer: Dear God, in this Lenten season, help me remember that my Father’s arms are always open wide and He is waiting for me to come to Him. In those arms may I find peace and forgiveness for all my shortcomings. Help me to remember that He wants me to find peace and feel the joy of His love. And thank you, Father for the gifts you so freely give to me each day. Amen