To know the words of Jesus during his years of ministry on earth, one must undoubtedly turn to the Gospels. Indeed, His disciples present us with some of His teachings and miracles even though John said: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the speeches of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Luke. Let us find out about this parable and the message about divine mercy.
The return of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “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!
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’
20 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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “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.
23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Seeing all the wealth that his father had just granted him, this son decided to take his independence and to leave a life of debauchery. Sometimes, we may resemble the son moving away from his father because he considers that the inheritance he received is enough to make him happy. God is a good Father and he gives us His graces in abundance (goods, health, wisdom, intelligence, family, etc.) but this must not be a step away from him. Indeed, it is written: Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,” (Deuteronomy 8:11-12). The desire of our Father is that our hearts always remain attached to Him and that we say: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalms 73:26)
The account of the Prodigal Son also reveals to us the merciful character of our Father. The Bible describes him as the one who does not get tired of forgiving. In his mercy, he forgives us but also gives us the place that we had lost. Indeed, when the son repented his actions, his father did not want him as a servant, but instead returned him to his position as a beloved son, for whom he even organized a feast. So don’t be afraid to return to God, because his fatherly arms are always open to us.