3/13 The Prodigal Son – Symbol of God’s Mercy Towards the Sinner

Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable:
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons;
12 and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.
15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
17 But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;
23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry;
24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
27 And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’
28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29 but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’
31 And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

We are all exiles on this earth and far away from our Heavenly home.  The parable of the Prodigal Son has a deep symbolic meaning.  When we ponder it, we spontaneously perceive that the Prodigal Son is non other than every person who through a sinful life has become estranged from God.  For this reason, the parable is very real to us; it is the story of our lives.  It is a symbol of our infidelity to God.  But it is also the symbol of God’s unbounded mercy toward us.  Today, as the world teems with prodigal sons and daughters, this parable is dramatized in countless millions.  Every person is either that older son who is ever faithful to his father or that younger son who only through hard and painful experience becomes convinced that outside the father’s house there is no happiness.

The parable teaches us that God forgives and mercifully receives even the greatest sinners, if they repent and are sorry for their sins.  The history of the human race is nothing but the history of God’s mercy.  “The mercy of the Lord is from eternity to eternity upon them that fear Him.”  (Psalm 103,17)

An awareness of one’s own misery induces sincere sorrow and repentance, as well as a desire to beg God for forgiveness and mercy.  And where there is sorrow for sin and repentance, there one will find the ever generous mercy of God.


Book of Heaven
Volume One

… I had such fear of moving away and of doing worse than before, that I myself cannot express it. When I was with Him, I did nothing but tell Him of the pain I felt for having offended Him. I kept asking for His forgiveness, I thanked Him for having been so good to me, and I said to Him from the heart: ‘See oh Lord, the time I have lost, while I could have loved You.’ I was unable to say anything but the grave evil I had done.

Finally, one day, reprimanding me, He told me: “I do not want you to think about it. When a soul has humbled herself, being convinced of having done wrong, and has cleansed her soul in the Sacrament of Confession, and is ready to die rather than offend Me – it is an affront to my mercy, it is a hindrance to drawing her close to my love, because her mind is always trying to wrap itself with the mud of the past. She also prevents Me from letting her take flight toward Heaven, because she is always with those ideas wrapped within herself, as she tries to think about it. And then, see, I no longer remember anything; I have perfectly forgotten about it.