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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

A Truly Prodigal Father

"I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father,I have sinned against heaven and before you,and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”

(Luke 15:18-19 NKJV)

"I do not want to know anything more than God. He does not answer me, and because He does not care for me, He goes about His business and I go about mine". Maybe just your own thoughts... It happens to anyone to find ourselves in such a situation where we will be unhappy and place the blame on someone. Usually the chosen culprit is God. The young man in the Lucan parable is also in a bad situation, but rather than looking for culprits, he "comes to himself" (v. 17), realizes that it is time to go home and humble himself before his father, because forgiveness requires a backward path. He thus lays out the plan to return, anticipating his father's eventual reaction. If he had been a dilapidator before, now he tries to calculate everything. When he is about to take the path home, anxiety assails him, perhaps he is in doubt: "Do I go or do I not go? What is waiting for me? What will my father do?" Kind of like Jacob the day before he met Esau after a 20-year stint in the distant lands of his uncle Laban. As he is wrestling with his thoughts, gathering what little strength he has left to overcome the last of his resistance, his father catches a glimpse of him from afar and does not hesitate to run up to him. Before he uttered a word, he was already caught up with him, in the process of sorting out the last thoughts and trying to line up the words, and now he is held in an immense paternal embrace, covered with kisses on his neck.


According to the custom of the time, the father was supposed to wait for his son on the doorstep, standing still. It was disreputable for a father to run toward a son. What is more, his is also a disorderly running, since the text literally says "running he fell on top of his neck." Luke paints a scene that is, at the same time, dramatic and extraordinary: the father runs toward his son and in his eagerness to touch him stumbles, runs over him as if to bring him back into his paternal bowels. Then he kisses him without restraint and without end, until he reinstates him as a regenerated son. The kiss is a gesture of total love, a sign of total forgiveness. It expresses communion, sharing, totality. The father's kisses are not separated from the fact that "he fell on his neck," as if to say that she intends to gather him into her lap and enjoy him as a son delivered for the second time, are the eloquent sign of the restoration of intimacy without reservation. The action of falling on him indicates that the father covers him with his whole person, shielding the son's fragility and heartening him. The second son does not have time to declare his repentance that he already finds himself "kissed" by his father: he is forgiven before even asking for forgiveness. We have before us a tender image of the heavenly Father. In the face of possible recovery, no one can block the irrepressible joy, which arouses attitudes and behaviors that may appear not in keeping with the dignity of the one who performs them. He who gave us biological life at birth, who did not hesitate to give us the life of the Only Begotten Son, does not hesitate to recover us for the sake of His good name.


How many times have you thought of going to speak to someone mentally preparing the whole speech, trying to imagine everything that might happen. This young man also prepared his speech, but he was overwhelmed before he started. And as he is in his father's grip, he begins to mumble something, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be treated as your son." Almost there. He was at the point of humbly asking, "Treat me as one of your servants," that the father interrupted him and called his servants. The first contrite and sincere words were enough. At the tragic moment when he was to end his sonship, as he was about to offer himself as a servant, Luke says the father orders the servants to bring the finest robe and clothe him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. What had not been planned happens, for God is the one who can "do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). His robe did not testify to his nobility, his feet were barefoot and his former ring sold, while the dagger remained at his side. The father is basically saying to him, "You are my son and you cannot be a servant in our house; you will never be one of my workers". Here is the generosity of this father, truly prodigal like no one else. Despite the fact that the son squandered what the father had given him, he now has a second chance; he is rehabilitated as a son.


 

Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #49 November 28, Ezekiel 33-34; 1 Peter 5 November 29, Ezekiel 35-36; 2 Peter 1 November 30, Ezekiel 37-39; 2 Peter 2 December 01, Ezekiel 40-41; 2 Peter 3 December 02, Ezekiel 42-44; 1 John 1 December 03, Ezekiel 45-46; 1 John 2 December 04, Ezekiel 47-48; 1 John 3


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