On May 11, 2016, Pope Francis reflected on the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15: 11-32.
Pope Francis said,
“Jesus wishes to teach us that we are children of God not because of any merits of our own but because of the infinite love of our heavenly Father.”
Think back to this beloved parable. As I imagine this story, my heart is filled with such joy.
God is, and always will be our Father. Just as the father in the parable, He will always love us, despite our numerous shortcomings. In this parable, the son, unfortunately, leaves his father’s house to live a life of sin and luxury. When the money runs out, he returns home. Can you imagine the shame and guilt this man must have faced returning home? There have been times when I have had to face my parents like that. I knew what I had done was wrong, and I had to go home and tell them about it. My stomach still flip flops with guilt when I think back on those times. I also think on the times when I told God, “I don’t need you. I’ve got this.”
Instead of making the son stay with the pigs and eat scraps, the father instantly welcomed his son home. He showed his son nothing but love and happiness upon his return. Each time I told God, “I don’t need you”, I eventually returned to Him. Sometimes returning meant making amends with those closest to me, and sometimes that meant taking better care of myself. However, each time I returned, I felt like I was truly coming home. A weight was lifted, and my heart was restored.
Our Father, much like the father in the parable, waits for us. He waits for us to get it together and come home. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and admit the way we’ve been living our lives isn’t the way He would want us to live. I think that is one of the hardest things do. Just like the prodigal son, we have to examine our lives and our actions without bias.
Pope Francis continues his catechesis by telling us what we already know, but need to be reminded of, “How often do we need to be reminded of God’s unchanging love and ready for forgiveness, lest we lose heart when we ourselves or our dear ones go astray!” God doesn’t love us because of our actions, He loves us in spite of our actions. His love is infinite and covers a host of sins. We just need to turn around, swallow our pride, and return home. The journey home may be long and exhausting. There may be some habits that are hard to break or some lifestyles that need to be reevaluated. However, knowing that your Father is waiting for you when you walk through that door is motivating and inspiring.
Remember, the Father has been in the same place-home. He has invited you to stay, to live, to rest. It is up to you to take Him up on that invitation and stay.
Reflection: Think of a time when your disappointing actions were met with love and compassion.
Reflection: Do you have a long journey ahead of you? Perhaps you can find a friend or loved one to take the journey back home with you.
Act: Take time evaluate your actions in the last week and think of how you can make better choices in the following week.