The parable of the prodigal son is called “the greatest short story in the world” (Charles Dickens), “the gospel of the gospels”, “the gospel of the outcasts,” and the “parable of the prodigal Father.” The prodigal son story has moved great artists like Rembrandt; composers like John Newton (amazing grace) the golden voiced man Ted Williams of our own times and thousands. It’s a story which never exhausts in its meaning and applications. There are various nuances in the story that draws our attention. The prodigal son is a living symbol of every sinner. The self-righteous elder brother’s attitude may be hiding in us in the form of bitterness and anger. Whatever may be our situation great sinners like the prodigal son or self-righteous like the older son, we are invited to savor the Father’s unconditional prodigal love.
The prodigal son is an object lesson about true repentance. The son who never valued and realized the Father’s love sees something great in the outside world. His decisions were impetuous. He was ever dissatisfied in his stay with the father. The house rules of the father were weighing heavily upon him. He was lured by the worldly pleasures. His request for an inheritance shows how passionately he was drawn by the worldly influences and how daringly he defies his Father. Usually after the death of the father the sons shared the father’s inheritance, therefore the young mans’ request was dishonoring, outrageous and impudent to the Father. It was equal to saying: “Dad I wish you were dead, leave me alone, and don’t be a barrier in my way and plans.” The prodigal son was willing to sell his birth right. He was neither considerate of his family nor of his father’s anguish.
The desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin: and sin when it is full grown brings death” (James 1:14-15). His desire for unbridled freedom was the sudden cause of his downfall. In an absolute reversal of fortunes the young man’s life turned to be a nightmarish horror.
•He wanted to be free from all family ties and responsibilities
•He wanted to live a life of pleasure.
•He wanted money to spend for everything what he wanted
•He was peer pressurized and surrounded by fair weather friends.
•His return was delayed because of the shame
•He was assured of the self-confidence he had and was hoping to work his way out of the situation.
•He became a beggar, unkempt and reduced to extreme poverty and became a subject of contempt.
•He accepts the meanest job, and fights with swine to satisfy his hunger and lowers to the level of a swine.
•Self-help programs and therapies didn’t save him.
•Worldly fun, sexual pleasures and intoxicated life led him to extreme loneliness.
•His wake up call came from his loneliness and from a reflection of the past. From out of mind he came to his senses.
Prodigal planned to appeal to his Father’s love and kindness.
He planned how to get back to his Father and home.
He was determined to walk away from sin, submit to his father’s authority, and pleaded for father’s forgiveness.
He himself acknowledged that he was wrong.
The new life begins with the change of clothes (habits) returning to the innocence in which he was created, his head shaved off (like the head of a new born), given shower, and new royal dress was put on him.
He was overwhelmed by the father’s unconditional love.
“Thus, love has a language which none can understand but those who know what it is to love”
St. Francis de Sales