"We conclude our reflections with a story from the 15th chapter of Luke's gospel. It is the long but beautiful story of the prodigal son ... or the loving father ... or the jealous brother.
First we have the ungrateful son who demands of his father his share of the inheritance, depriving his father security in old age as well as respect and dignity ... and he wastes his inheritance foolishly. He did not come to an awareness of his sin until he felt the effects of his foolish ways. He had nothing and was treated by the world around him with no dignity or respect.
To his credit, though, he came to his senses and realized that even as a servant he would be better off in his father's household. He bites the bullet ... swallows his pride ... and returns home in a true spirit of repentance. As he says: "I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son."
When we have sinned against heaven and against our family, are we willing to return home in a true spirit of repentance?"
"Now we have the loving father's story. We hear that he was faced with the pain of an ungrateful son's greed. That pain tore at his heart. What had he done wrong? And if nothing, then why was he treated in this way?
Like God could have done with us, he could have written his younger son off ... he could have declared him dead to the family. After all, he had another son and other obligations.
But he did not! We hear that "while he (the younger son) was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was fillied with compassion."
He did not just happen to look up and see him coming. The story suggests that his heart was vigilant in watch and hoping for his son's return. And his heart was filled with compassion ... not anger or bitterness.
This is the heart that the Lord has for us when we come to our senses and return home. We are welcomed back with joy. Accept his welcome."
"And finally, we meet the older son whose faithfulness took on a bitterness when confronted with the generous love and acceptance of his father for his no good brother.
When his dad asks why he was bitter, he spills his guts: "all these years I have served you and not once disobeyed your orders" yet you never threw a party for me.
Do you ever find yourself resentful of the generous love or kindness or mercy that the Lord, or for that matter anyone else that you know, shows to someone that you don't feel deserves it?
Yet this is what our heavenly Father is like. He rejoices in the one repentant sinner who is saved ... in the lost coin that was found ... in the son or daughter who comes home. He welcomes them as his child ... cloths them with the best ... and celebrates that which was lost as having been found.
Thank him for such tremendous love."