“The son grew angry at this and would not go in.” —Luke 15:28
The parable of the prodigal son is not meant primarily for the younger, sinful son but rather for the older, righteous son. Jesus specifically addresses the parable to “the Pharisees and scribes” (Lk 15:2-3). Jesus is trying to teach people who go to Church, who pray, who read this publication, who have never left the loving house of the Father (see Lk 15:31). It’s easy to forget that most of us resemble the audience Jesus addressed more than we resemble the sinful son.
The eldest son is unable to love those whom his father loves. He is unable to rejoice when his father rejoices (Lk 15:32). If the eldest son had the heart of his father, he would celebrate with his father. This parable strongly teaches that those who have never outwardly rebelled against God are as much in need of conversion as those who have completely rejected the Lord.
We are meant to learn to love and forgive “from [our] heart” (Mt 18:35). Jesus calls us to forgive wholeheartedly, as He forgives (Lk 23:34). No matter how much someone has hurt us, they have not hurt us as much as Jesus has been hurt. Yet Jesus has the forgiving heart of the prodigal son’s father. Jesus embraces those who cause Him pain. He forgives, suffers, and celebrates without reckoning the cost. “Go and do the same” (Lk 10:37).
PRAYER: “Father, I have sinned against…You” (Lk 15:18). “Be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Help me to forgive from my heart all who have hurt me (Mt 18:35).
PROMISE: “You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” —1 Tm 1:15
PRAISE: “[Paul] explained many things, showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: ‘This Jesus I am telling you about is the Messiah!’ ” (Acts 17:3)
(From a reflection by a member of the editorial team of the late Fr Al Lauer’s Presentation Ministries)
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