The Prodigal Son is a classic morality play–one that’s so poignant that it proves one of Jesus’ most under-appreciated miracles was his ability to change hearts through the power of his words. Raising Lazarus from the dead was amazing, but he was able to give his words eternal life. However, today’s mass marked the first time I had a fresh take-away from the words of the Prodigal.
Only when the errant son had lost everything his father gave him did he realize the error of his ways. And once he did, his first idea was to practice a speech that would ingratiate himself with his father. He rehearsed his little speech and delivered it flawlessly to his father. To his father’s credit, he didn’t need that rehearsed speech to welcome his son back. He was ready to welcome him back when he saw the son coming from far off. His father showed agape love—needing no rationale other than his son’s return home.
A pretty interesting sequel could be written to this tale. The father could depart and the two sons might end up at each other’s throats. That, after all, is our human nature. But the point of this story, I just realized, is not to show any redeeming qualities on the part of the kids, but to show the all-forgiving nature of Our Father. It’s his Grace that saves us, not our big fat mouths.