“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:6)
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:25)
Many of us, when reading the story of the “Prodigal Son”, identify ourselves wholeheartedly as the young soul that took off on his great adventure and found himself with his face fallen in the mud. I think to myself, this is my life. I am this young person. I have been arrogant, obnoxious, rude, vulgar, and tactless. I have decided to leave the security of my home – my faith, morals, values and principles- and have quietly begun the great divorce within my mind, between them and my honor, between me and them. Only through sin could something this horrible happen. Sin can only enter when I allow my mind to grow weak and my heart to go faint. It doesn’t all happen overnight. This young man does not leave one night. It takes years for all this decay. Many of us can see it in others. Few of us can see it in ourselves. This is the setting for my rebellion. I have gone off to rebel, only to find myself eventually shattered, broken and crippled by my own hands and tongue.
Graduation for many of our youth is coming soon. This is the time of year when many lose their virginity in preparation for College. This is the time of year when far too many seek what they should never find and knock on the door they should never enter. Not now. Not there. This is the time when far too many begin to sell themselves off for cheap and lose their dignity to dirt.
The greatest pain, the greatest tears I have seen is when a young lady breaks up with her faith, morals, values and dignity before they break up with him. Of course, the same could be said for a young man. In fact, it actually does more damage to him than to her. He doesn’t seem to learn as quickly as she does.
This is the story of the Prodigal child. His problem was not that he was not loved enough; his problem was that he did not trust enough. Maybe he received far too little help from his older brother. This is an interesting addition in the Lord’s parable. Why mention an older son? The Father had two sons: The Jews and the rest of the world. The eldest Son, the Jewish people, is close to his heart. The youngest Son, the Pagans, is off in some distant land. They are both loved and both very much confused. It is the father who has to deal with both of them. As easily as we could identify ourselves with the young man that goes off and squanders that which he should cherish, I think we can now see a little bit of our “Christian selves” – you know, we who have been saved, the Jesus loves me crowd - in the young man that stayed home and did nothing except judge and condemn, criticize and speak harshly towards our brothers and sisters. How much more pathetic is he?
Lord, allow me to be more like your beloved Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who was kind and merciful, giving and forgiving towards all his brothers and sisters - those who are close to him and those who are far from him. Amen.