We know today’s Gospel as ‘The Parable of the Prodigal Son.’ But perhaps we should focus instead on the father in the story. He is hurt by both of his sons. The younger son asks for his share of the family property without waiting for his father’s death, then leaves home as soon as he can and burns through his inheritance. When he comes back to his father’s house, no doubt expecting a frosty reception, he finds instead that his father is waiting anxiously for him, wanting to welcome him home and celebrate his return. The elder son reacts angrily to his father’s forgiveness of this wayward brother. It seems that, although he has worked dutifully on the farm, he is full of resentment. Once again, the father comes out to seek his son and to bring about a reconciliation.
In this parable, Jesus reveals to us the limitless compassion and mercy of God, our Father. When we fall into sin, God seeks us out, brings us home, and celebrates when we are reconciled to him. The season of Lent is the time to turn back to God for mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.