Study: Which one am I in the parable – the son in need of forgiveness or the son who needs to forgive?
Pray: How does God’s forgiveness touch my heart – at Mass, Confession, or private devotion?
Serve: How can I be like the father in the parable, reaching out to those in need of the grace of repentance and forgiveness?
This Gospel reading is very familiar. Let’s take a moment to break it down into its basic parts:
The Younger Son – selfish & foolish
The Older Son – hardworking & unforgiving
The Father – eager to reach out to both sons
In our reading today, we discover both the context and reason for Jesus offering this parable, as well as the central points within it. These verses are part of Luke – chapter 15.
1-3 Jesus with sinners, the Pharisees complain
4-7 Parable of the Lost Sheep (not heard today)
8-10 Parable of the Lost Drachma (not heard today)
11-32 Prodigal Son
11-12 Younger son wants his share
13 Younger son leaves father, squanders money
14-16 Younger son penniless, works as a slave
17-19 Younger son “comes to his senses”
20a Younger son returns to his father
20b The father sees the son, runs to meet him
21 The younger son repents to his father
22-24 The father celebrates – his son is back to life
25-27 The older son hears about his brother
28-30 The older son is angry – speaks to his father
31-32 The father’s response to the older son
What are some of the lessons of this parable?
1. God comes to us.
2. God longs for our life and health.
3. God does not force us to repent.
4. We must “come to our senses” first.
5. Repentance & forgiveness challenge us.
Remember, Jesus was with “sinners” at the beginning of this reading. He was reaching out to people who had made choices in the past that had led them away from God and other people. The parable is a way to show that God is constantly inviting us back to a relationship.
The same is true for us. Whether we stand in need of forgiveness, or need to let go of our bitterness and anger – the Lord searches for us and invites us to celebrate whenever repentance is present and life & hope are restored.