Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable: “A man had two sons…”
We know this parable well. It has touched our hearts many times. But have we gotten used to it? Have we become bored with it? You know…it’s the same old same old story? Well, it can’t be! It must never be! Let’s be honest. If any story is the same old same old story, then it’s our sad story of making the same mistakes over and over again!
The Prodigal Son. I am the prodigal son. I have dissipated all that has been given to me. I have used my talents for the worst. I have squandered my wealth on expensive and useless gadgets. I have walked away from my responsibilities, especially my family. I have considered myself more the victim than the victimizer. My mentality has become one of self-entitlement, selfishness and self-righteousness.
I am the Prodigal Son. I once believed that rules were meant to be broken and that in order to “live my life to the full” I had to live it in sin. I thought I knew it all at an early age. I thought I could trust my friends more than my family. Once upon a time I believed more in dreams than in hard work. I believed I could do no wrong; that I was always in the right while everyone else was just plain wrong. I believed more in my created dreams than in the Creator’s reality.
I am the Prodigal Son. One day, I came to my senses and returned to my Father’s house.
The Father. I am the Father. I have prayed for my children to come back to their faith. I have prayed for my children to grow up! I have paced the corridors of my home a million times and stayed up all night awaiting their safe return. I have felt the pain and sadness that comes from unconditional love gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I have cried many tears wondering if I could have done better.
I am the Father. I have spent my small fortune on my children. I have spent the best years of my life for them. I have dreamt the dreams of who they could have been. I have felt the shame they felt towards me.
I am the Father. When I spoke they did not listen. When I encouraged they took it for granted. When I corrected them they retreated. When I loved them and dared to challenge them, they broke my heart.
Many years ago a woman came to me and told me of a very unfortunate incident that occurred in her home. She told me that her adult daughter no longer spoke to her. In fact, the young lady told her mother that she didn’t want her to speak to her or to her children. I asked her what she did. She told me that one day she begged her daughter to spend more time with her three children, to come home earlier at night and to stop partying till 4:00 am. I asked this old lady where her daughter lived. She said, “With me.” What??? I couldn’t believe it. I asked her, “Is she living in your house?” She said, “Yes.” I told her, “Well then tell your daughter that if she cannot respect you, then she shouldn’t live with you. Give her three days to move out.”
Of course the temptation is to think that this is not what the “Father” would do. But it appears as though the Father knew exactly what he was doing, for the Son moved out...and eventually returned as a new man.
If this child could not live by His Father’s rules, then he could not live under His Father’s roof.
Kicking someone out of the house is not the same as killing them. On the contrary, it may actually save them!
In Christ’s parable, the Father allowed his son to take half of his possessions. However, he did not allow the boy to take the home. Yes, we can live our lives with the talents we have received. But we cannot use them to enter through the gates of paradise. Without remorse and repentance, we will forever remain in exile.
The brother. I am the brother. I have worked for my Father with my hands and feet but not with my heart. I have secretly been jealous of those who can get away with “murder”. I have squandered not my possessions but my heart and my mind - my greatest possessions. I have battled not for love or salvation but for titles and authority. I have wasted half my youth on my insecurities.
I am the brother. I have spent a life time calculating. I have spent far too much time probing. I have gone out of my way to be brutally honest but not half the distance to be approachable and understanding. I have focused on the negative and have kept out of my sight and mind all the blessings and graces I have received. I am a man that is always physically present but never really present. I am the brother who is not my brother’s keeper.
Resolution: I will examine my conscience and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. I will return to my Father’s house, regardless of whether or not I ever left it.