Today’s gospel is usually entitled “The Prodigal Son”, however, the parable is more about who the Father is, rather than the son. In this parable we discover the heart of God the Father; how he relates not just to his wayward son, but rather two of his sons who have gone wrong.
The first son rebels against the father. He must be feeling that his father and his father’s house is an obstacle to his freedom. So, he rebels, asks for an early inheritance, lives for fleeting pleasures, and is found empty. How often we can see this in our culture today and if we are honest, we can see this in our own heart. Every time we think that doing right is too difficult or not worth it so we don’t do it. Every time we make compromises and excuses or lack the patience to do what we know we should do we have this younger son in us.
The second son has a childish obedience towards the Father. He obeys, but like a servant, his relationship is not right. He thinks the father “owes” him good things because he is doing what is right. Every time that we think we deserve something better or complain when we see others receiving good things and we ourselves are left in the background we are acting like this elder son.How then can we overcome these two types of sons that are present in us? Pope Benedict the XVI puts it beautifully: “Both these forms are surmounted through the experience of mercy. Only by the experience of forgiveness, by recognising one is loved with a freely given love, a love greater than our wretchedness but also than our own merit, do we at last enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God…”
The love of God is beyond what we can imagine. It is for all of humanity and for each individual. There is no need to rebel or think that we deserve good things more than others! We must simply recognise God’s love for what it is, receive it, and live by it the best we can.
In the words of our Pope Emeritus: “Let us meditate on this parable. Let us compare ourselves to the two sons and, especially, contemplate the Heart of the Father. Let us throw ourselves into his arms and be regenerated by his merciful love.”