|The Prodigal Son may be one of the most well known Gospel stories, not only among Christians, but the world in general. I can attest that this has had a haunting impact on me since the days of my early youth. I can give no apparent explanation why this was true most of my life. I often thought of the characters in the Gospel beginning with my grade school days into my adult years and continually tried to decipher their place in the story.
Like many young adults, I began my own Prodigal journey that lasted for ten years. This errant journey ended only after a car crash that could have easily taken my life. The character of the wayward son was now looking me in the eyes. This was the starting point of a new life of one who “was lost and had been found.” After actions I took on my part, I was becoming fully engaged in a growing relationship with God.
As I progressed through my spiritual walk, there were two characters left that were a cause of reflection. They are, of course, the brother and father in the story. During a Lenten Season book study, the leader picked out The Prodigal Son by Henry Nouwen to read. This was one of those books that as I was reading convicted my heart in many ways. I saw myself too often as the jealous brother in my walk through life. The book also led me to, what for me, was the main lesson from the parable. A father’s love is always there waiting to welcome his children back to the fold. More importantly is that, as a person I need to be a more loving and forgiving person not only with my children but others around me. I needed to adopt this manner of living more in all areas of my life. Is it easy to do? Certainly not, but when someone who shows the slightest move forward to me to improve relations I should “become filled with compassion and run to meet them.” Like all things with the Lord, I need only rely on Him for the grace to have a change of heart.
“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all of our neighbors’ defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” — St. Therese of Lisieux