Joshua 5:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Luke 15:1-3,11-32
What happens When the Prodigal Son returns to the Prodigal Father
When we look at the theme of today’s reflection, we would ask who is the prodigal father since we have already known the prodigal son and what is the relationship between the prodigal father and son? Is the father prodigal? What makes the Father prodigal?
What truly happens when the prodigal son meets the prodigal father? To get to the root of today’s Sunday message, let us define the meaning of prodigal.
Prodigal simply means spending money or resources freely and recklessly. It means squandering something wastefully.
Prodigal is a word that denotes someone who is over liberal, extravagant, generous, lavish, bountiful. It is used to denote someone who spends or gives lavishly.
Now the reason the son of the father in today’s gospel is termed prodigal is that he lavished the father’s wealth and resources that were given to him.
In His prodigality, he wasted the necessary resources bestowed on him by the father without achieving anything. Therefore, the prodigal son in today’s gospel reading represents us who also waste the precious resources God has blessed us with, in frugal living.
Instead of making good use of the time, gifts, talents, resources, children, body, positions, graces etc that God blesses us with, we waste them and use them in a way that is not pleasing to God.
Prodigal here entails wasting God’s precious resources. Then how is the father prodigal? The question here is “Is the father prodigal and how?
The Prodigal Father.
I once accompanied a priest friend to his uncle’s child dedication. He just asked me if I would accompany Him to the celebration, I agreed so we went together. What I encountered in that celebration is not what I will be writing here.
The uncle threw a huge party. It was a celebration galore. I never witnessed such kind of child dedication before. Every person who attended the celebration left home satisfied with expensive gifts and food.
In fact, after even eating, there were still food to take away and several types of drinks and assorted dishes. But at one point, I asked my friend, “is it ordinary child dedication that your uncle is lavishing a huge amount of money like this?
My friends replied that if I could find another word higher than lavish, I could even put it there. He told me that whatever the man is lavishing today is not lavishing in the negative sense but He is thanking God for giving him a child after ten years of marriage.
In the gospel today, immediately the prodigal son came back, the father threw a prodigal party for him.
The father didn’t ask Him the reason he squandered his money, instead, the Father lavished him with love. Therefore, the prodigal father was prodigal with his gifts, love, mercy, forgiveness, banquet and inheritance.
He even told the first son that all he has is His. Therefore, the father is not even thinking of withdrawing any rewards and inheritance for the son, He is willing to give all.
In essence, God is represented here. He is extravagant in loving us, caring for us, and showing us His mercy even when we have sinned against Him. The prodigal father is the One who is prodigal in Loving us.
When we go to confession, He does not refuse us forgiveness. He is ever willing to show us forgiveness. Therefore, the story of the prodigal son is not only about the son who lavished his father’s resources but also the story of the nature of God who is willing to lavish His love on us.
In the first reading, He shows His caring for His people even when the Manna stops falling. He did not allow them to go hungry.
Now if the prodigal son returns to the prodigal father, guess the result? Let us keep moving.
What awaits the Prodigal Son.
The gospel of today begins by telling us how the tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what He had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained that Jesus ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So, in response to them, Jesus now tells the parable of the prodigal son.
Therefore, the parable aims to teach the Pharisees that God is all ready to welcome back the sinner to Him. What awaits the sinner whenever he remembers His God and comes back is beyond human telling.
Therefore, God does not discriminate because we are sinners or righteous. He is ready to welcome us back again. Therefore, this is a call to come back to God in repentance of heart. Let us take this step by step.
The Prodigal Son Goes Far Away.
In response to the Pharisees, Jesus tells the parable of a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.”
So, the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
1. The first thing we have to observe today is that immediately the second son requests a share of His property, the father did not say no to it. The father did not even ask him what he is using the property to do. He immediately gives Him what he wants.
2. This reveals the nature of God. What the son asks was a share of His inheritance and the father gives it to him.
Therefore, God does not refuse His gifts whenever we ask of Him, This first of all underscores the nature of the Prodigal Father who is always willing to give His children gifts whenever they ask for them.
In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Therefore, where the problem lies is not in God giving us His gifts freely but we, who are given those resources and gifts. How do we manage them? What do we use them to do?
3. Today many countries like Nigeria are blessed with natural resources but instead of using them to make the country better, the leaders misuse them.
When we misuse what God gives to us, we put ourselves into dire need and suffering. The prodigal son misused His resources and went into suffering. This is the problem of Nigeria and many countries today. When God blesses you, how you use and misuse the gifts and resources can either make or mar you.
4. Also, God allows us to make our choices and decisions. We can choose either to remain close to Him or not. He doesn’t force us to remain close to Him. The same way the father allowed the son to make His choices is the same way God allows us to make our choices in life.
We can decide to do good or bad. He does not coerce us, but the point is that whichever way we choose, has its implications.
The prodigal son chose to be far away and faced the implication.
For Example, if a family decides to stay in peace, they will enjoy the results and if they decide not to remain in peace and fight themselves, they also face the results. But God is always there with his hand’s open waiting for us to do the needful.
5. The prodigal son moves away in a far distant land. Did you discover that this distant land has no name? It was just distant. Therefore, the word ‘distant’ tells us how it is when we sin against God. It is like someone who has wandered away from God’s presence.
So, whenever we sin against God, it is decision to wander away from Him.
Therefore, as the prodigal son wanders away, this is the same way we have wandered away from God in a far distant land. We have wandered away through our sinful living, total neglect of God, all kinds of immoral living, prayerlessness etc.
As the name of this land is unknown, we have wandered ourselves into an unknown destination. Whatever may happen to us in this type of life that we have chosen to live, is also unknown. But in the presence of God, we are sure of forgiveness, yet we have abandoned God to plunge ourselves into an unknown land.
6. Just as the son remembered that His father’s workers are paid handsomely and he decides to return, is the same we do remember God only when things get tough.
We wandered into an unknown land thinking that we can do everything in our power until problem strikes, then we now remember that God is full of mercy.
Let us today know that the immoral and evil road we have chosen to walk on, anything can happen to you along the way. We have to return to the presence of God again.
What Happens to the Prodigal Son In Far Away Distant Land.
1. When the Prodigal son left the presence of the Father and went to a far distant land. He spent all that He had. The country too experienced a severe famine and now he begins to feel the pinch of what he did.
In essence, what this means is that whenever we decide to wander in sin, we wander away from God, and when we go away from God, we are inviting eternal suffering and damnation unto ourselves.
2. Secondly, to be far from God, the prodigal son depends on His strength and power to do it alone until it dawns on Him that He needs the graces, love, strength, blessings and care of His loving father.
Therefore, when we wander away from God, it is a decision to reject God totally, reject his love and care. Therefore, this parable is letting us understand that we can never do without God. We can never succeed without his grace. We cannot do it alone.
3. To be in a faraway distant land, is a decision to be far from God. When we decide to remain far away from God, there could be a severe famine. This famine can come in the form of problems and challenges.
When these come, what we have, the resources and gifts that we have may also suffer, what we need then is supernatural grace and love. Only the strength that comes from God can lead us through difficult times and in moments of challenges.
4. In the far distant land, the prodigal son hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything.
The point here is that he has discovered that where he went to seek pleasure and shelter, there is nothing to gain in it. This is how the world is.
In the world we seek to find pleasure, we think that everything ends in this world but in the long run, we will discover that the world is empty. It is vanity upon vanity. Therefore, never seek refuge in the world rather seek refuge in God. Therefore we have to decide to return to God.
The Decision to Return.
1. When the suffering became stronger, the prodigal son came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here I am dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.”
So, he left the place and went back to his father. Therefore, the decision to return to God must come from us. It must come from the heart. Just as we have decided to be far away, we have also to decide to return to our God. It must come from us and willingly.
2. During the time of the famine, the prodigal son remembers how prodigal the father is with His resources and Love. He says to himself “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here I am dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father”.
Therefore, in our decision to return to God, we have to know that we are also returning to abundant love, abundant grace, abundant spiritual nourishment.
The prodigal son knows that in the presence of God there is fullness of grace, joy, peace, blessings and open doors and the best decision is to return.
Therefore, let us do the same. Where we are returning to is not a place of lack but a place of abundance. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy, love and peace (psalms 16:11).
3. The prodigal son says to himself “I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.
First, Jesus wants us to know that to repent of our sins is a decision to come back to our father. He is a father, therefore when the prodigal son returns, he is returning to someone who takes him as His son or daughter. So when we return to God, we return to our Father.
This is similar to the word we say during confessions. During confession, we say: father forgive me for I have sinned…” and today the prodigal son says father forgive me” therefore for a decision to return, we have to go for confessions and confess our sins and come back to grace.
The Prodigal Son Returns to the Prodigal Father.
1.‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
Then there was a prodigal feast. This feast is what truly awaits our return. In Luke 15:7, Jesus says that there is more joy in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over 99 good people who don’t need to.
Therefore, the only way to make God happy is not how much we pray and fast but how truly we are willing to come back to Him.
2. The feast here depicts that eternal banquet that awaits all the saints. This eternal happiness and bliss await every soul that turns back to God in spirit and truth.
1. Great things happen when a soul returns to God. In the gospel, while the prodigal son was still far away, his father saw him and was moved with pity. This is the first.
The Father sees the condition of his souls and is moved with pity. Therefore, when the prodigal son returns to the father, He must encounter His mercy. When God sees the condition of that soul that willingly returns to Him, He will be moved with pity for that lovely soul.
The easiest way to attract the divine mercy of God is to be willing to return to Him.
In mark 6:34, when Jesus saw the crowd, he was moved with pity because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
When Jesus sees the pitiful nature of the sinful souls who seek to return to Him, He is always ready to show mercy again. Therefore, let us return. He is not a wicked God who compiles our past. He is willing to show mercy to us again.
2. When the father saw the son, the son did not run to Him, rather the father ran to the son. This reveals the type of love that God has for us. Under normal circumstances, the son is supposed to run to the father but it went the other way round. This shows a massive love from the father.
He lavishes His love for us even when we are sinners While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Therefore, God loves us more than we love Him. His love for us is perfect while ours is imperfect.
As he runs to embrace his son, you can see in Him, someone who has been longing for the son’s return, you can see extravagant love, you can see the willingness to forgive the son.
We can see a father who wants the best for us but we do not have His time. Therefore when we return to God, we will experience His love again.
3. When the Father ran to the son He clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
The father could not even allow him to speak. He did not ask where he went, He did not condemn him. Rather he was willing to change His condition.
This is what happens when the prodigal son returns to the prodigal father. Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In Him, old things have passed away. The second reading says for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.
Then the question today is, when do we return to God?
4. The Father removed the prodigal son’s clothes and decorated him with new clothes. In the same way, when we return to Him, He will remove our sinful pasts, the guilts, the filthiness and all the curses.
He will remove our sins, the betrayals, the sad experiences, then He will enclothe us with righteousness, peace, joy, clean and pure heart, He will give us peace again and make us part of his family again.
4b. In this parable, the father described the son that was lost as dead, therefore revealing to us what sin does to our souls. When we live in sin, we become spiritually dead.
It is a decision to live in darkness, to live away from God. To live in sin is a decision to die to righteousness.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they died spiritually. Therefore, to live in sin has grave consequences more than we think. Let us seek to desire God now that we live. It gives God great joy. Let us live to make God happy always.
5. The parable today is also a story of God’s willingness to welcome us again.
. It’s important to know what prompted the story. According to Matthew, Jesus was hanging out with some tax collectors, and sinners when a group of Pharisees came to him.
The Pharisees think they’re better than everyone else because they follow a lot of laws. So they feel so pissed off that Jesus was in the midst of the sinners and this led to the parable story.
Simply, Jesus is asking us to return to God again. He is not ashamed to guide us to the true light if we are willing to say yes to Him.
6. The older brother will not be left out of the story. His inclusion becomes important when we remember the context. The context is that Jesus tells this story in response to the Pharisees faulting him for spending time with sinners.
So, Like the Pharisees, the older brother wants not only to enjoy the rewards of being dutiful but to deny those rewards to anyone else. He wants his brother to be treated badly but God is not like that.
This is the reason many times we pray that God does this or that to a person, but instead of doing that, God gives the person much time to repent.
How we think and how God thinks are not the same. God is interested in showing mercy. 2 Peter 3:9, and Matthew 18:14 says that it is not the will of God that our souls would perish.
God is more interested to welcome the sinner if the sinner is willing to welcome His God again.
Therefore, the main message of The Prodigal Son is that God is eagerly awaiting our return if we are willing to return.
6b. If God is willing to forgive us and let go, let us also be willing to forgive others and let go. Let us stop bearing grudges and living with animosity and hatred. Let us live in love.
7. Finally, as the prodigal son returns to the father, there is a prodigal feast waiting for His return. So, the Father is willing to show his extravagant love and pour lavishly his mercy on the sinful souls.
So, Let us embrace God again. This is the time to confess our sins. Like the prodigal son, we have to ask Him to forgive us.
Therefore, when the prodigal son returns to the prodigal father, he encounters the prodigal nature of the mercy of the Father. When the prodigal son returns to the Prodigal Father, he was adorned with royal clothes and rings prodigally.
When the prodigal son returns to the prodigal Father, there was a prodigal banquet. In the presence of the Father, everything is in its fullness and lavishing.
So, When the prodigal son returns to father, He encounters the prodigal love and peace that can only come from the Father, therefore, instead of living a prodigal life wasting the resources of God, let us return and enjoy the fullness of it.
The father told the first son that since He is with Him, everything he has is His. Therefore, when we decide to be with the Lord, we become His and everything He has is ours.
Where He is, we shall be at the end of our lives. When the prodigal son returns, eternal banquet is already His. Therefore, there is heaven a t last for all children of God.
What awaits the return of the prodigal son is greater. Because the father is already prodigal with his love, mercy, resources, blessings and graces. So what awaits your return are all prodigal.
May God bless you. Happy Sunday