By Craig Sidol
When I hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I attempt to place myself into the story. I believe that it’s pretty easy to identify who God is calling me to be – the prodigal son.
Although the faithful son has done everything the Father has asked of him, it is clear to me that he is unable to recognize the love and compassion of his Father. The faithful son’s small tantrum reminds me how I compare myself to others. I find myself saying things like “I go to mass more than that person,” or “I pray more than that person,” and sometimes I think “I am holier than that person who does not believe in God." Yet, every time I hear this parable – God shows me that I am not those things. God shows me that I am like the faithful son pouting in the field about how unfair it is that He loves my brother just as much as me regardless of his shortcomings.
The Father does not care if I think I am a better son than my brother, the Father truly cares that I too understand the love and compassion that He has for me. It is through this realization that, although hesitantly, I begin to consider going to reconciliation. Similarly to the prodigal son, I have the guilt of returning to my Father. I fear that He won’t accept me because He knows my past. I fear that I am not worthy of His love and compassion because I threw it all away when I left His house. However; no matter how long I have been away, I believe it’s always best to admit my mistakes and make the trip back home to my Father.
What if I’m wrong? What if God isn’t calling me to be the prodigal son? What if God is calling me to be like the merciful father who runs to his sons?
In the Parable, the father completely understands what it means to have unquestioning love and compassion for other individuals. His compassion is so great that he rejoices at even seeing someone on the journey to make their relationship right with the Father. The father is only focused on letting others know that he loves them. He immediately forgives them for their past mistakes. He shows equal appreciation to those who have always been on the right path and to those who have had a difficult journey. He only cares about letting individuals know that they are loved and they can be whole again.
As you move through this week, ask yourself a few questions. How often am I like the faithful son? If I know that God loves me, why do I hesitate to make amends like the prodigal son? Finally, how incredible would this world be if we were all like the merciful father who celebrates the opportunity to give others a second chance?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Craig is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at the University of Cincinnati. He enjoys being active and recently signed up for his first half Ironman. His relationship with God is at its best when he can share it with others.