We call this parable ‘The Prodigal Son,’ but it could be called ‘The Forgiving Father.’ This is a story of a father who forgives his son in the most amazing way.
It’s hard to imagine anything more hurtful to a father than the words of the younger son. ‘Give me my share of your estate now – I don’t want to wait until you die.’ When he has the money, the son promptly goes off and squanders it all. Then, finding himself alone and hungry, he heads for home – probably expecting to receive a chilly welcome, if he is even allowed into the house. But his father welcomes him back, without even a telling-off, and throws a party to celebrate. His son is home, back with the family, and so he rejoices.
This father may seem foolish to us. Is he really going to welcome home the young man who insulted his father and burned through his money? Jesus tells the parable to teach us that God is foolish, in human terms. God’s forgiveness is greater than we can imagine, and far beyond what seems reasonable. Whatever sins we have committed, we should never think that we are beyond the mercy of God. Lent is the season to face up to our sins and to come back to our Father’s house, knowing that we will be forgiven.