Lent Retreat – Week 2, Saturday
In this season of Lent, as we think about the renewal of our relationship with God, it is helpful to think about the parable of the prodigal son. How did this relationship between father and son become so damaged and how was it healed?
Perhaps the son thought he could manage the estate better than his father, or maybe he saw his father as inhibiting his freedom, but even with these reasons, there is still something rather shocking about a son who can barely wait for his father’s death, a son who prematurely demands his inheritance. Such a cold hearted attitude towards one to whom he owes so much is not easily explainable. There is something unintelligible about sin.
In the parable, it is the pangs of hunger that make the prodigal son come to his senses and realise the unreasonableness of his behaviour. But is this realisation enough to heal the damaged relationship with his father? For all the son knew, his father could have died whilst he was away, or he might have wanted nothing to do with him, or lacked the resources to help him? From the parable, we know this is not the case. God is more merciful than we could possibly imagine, and even if we only have the vaguest inkling that God is alive, that He loves us and has the power to heal us, this is enough to get us to turn towards Him and make our first tentative steps towards salvation. And as in the parable, God is scouring the horizon, looking for those who are far off, ready to run towards those who are seeking Him. Christ’s Passion and Resurrection is the clearest sign we have that God lives, that He reigns and that He loves us, and this realisation is crucial if we are to live our lives for Him.
It is worth asking where does Jesus Christ fit into the parable of the prodigal son. Unlike some of the other parables, there is no one with whom Jesus is obviously identifying Himself. But all we have to do is take a step back – Jesus is the one who is telling the story. He is the one who communicates the Father’s love for us, and during Lent, this is what we are preparing to celebrate.