The Gospel of Luke shared a wonderful story of God’s love and His plan of reconciliation towards a lost humanity through the story of the prodigal son and his Father: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 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. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate (Luke 15: 17-24).
The prodigal son awakened from his miserable state after squandering what he had gained. He came to realize his utter condition and took a good hard look at his situation working in a pigsty. He was filled with repentance of what he’s done. It was no mere sentimental regret, no momentary flash of sorrow for a bad past. It was a decision to be made coupled with a long and weary journey to be undertaken in going back home to face his father. And without any second thoughts, he resolved to come home sad, suffering, ragged, destitute, but still safe. It was a hard choice to go back home with his pride thrown out the door and to face his father begging for his mercy. For he thought, the servants have a better life than him and to become a servant in his father’s house is better than the life he would leave behind—feeding swine and living in a pigsty.
When he reached home, his father run towards him 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. What! In all his filth? Yes. In all his rags? Yes. In all his haggard, shattered wretchedness? Yes. It did not end there but after the embrace and the kiss that his father gave him, he uttered his humble confession and acknowledgement of his sin against heaven, i.e., God and his father. But as if his father did not hear his plea. Instead, his father called out for the best robe placed on him by the Father and the ring that signified his position was being restored as son. It is important to note that the prodigal son returned home without shoes, a sign of having become extremely destitute because in ancient biblical times only servants and slaves went barefoot. Therefore, when the Father ordered shoes to be brought out and put on the prodigal's feet, he was not to be treated as a servant but as a son with all the entitlements.
It did not end there because the father’s joy cannot be contained with the return of the prodigal son. A fattened calf, reserved for festive occasion was killed and everyone in the father’s household was invited to join in the joyous occasion. It was a huge celebration that everyone present felt and shared with the father.
From this story, what is the message we can learn today? God’s loving arms is always open to those that return with a humble and repentant heart. He does not reject us but lovingly surrounds us of His love and mercy. How did God do it for us? God’s love was manifested through His Son Jesus and we were reconciled when He stretched out His hand at the cross for our restoration as sons and daughters again. This is the entire message of the Easter season.
Sandra Micelotti showed an excellent picture of what God, our loving Father do when we return like the prodigal son: “Forgiveness would be empty without restoration to the privileges forfeited by sin. Therefore, if you bear the name son or daughter through having received Jesus as Lord and Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit you have found favor with the Father.”
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