The Father’s response to his younger son: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15: 22-24).
The Father’s response to his older son: “My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and alive again; he was lost and is found'” (Luke 31-32).
“Where in the world have you been!” “Why didn’t you let me know where you where?” “You look awful. What have you been doing?” “Did you spend all your money?” I suspect that many of us might assault our son or daughter, the returning failure, with words like these if he or she returns home, an obvious failure.
But what does Jesus tell us that the younger son’s father did? He ran to greet his long-lost boy, threw his arm around him, and kissed him. While his son pours out his guilt, his father calls for a ring and sandals and preparations for a celebratory party. And when his older son, angry and bitter, complains about the father’s heartwarming welcome to his useless brother, the father says, “Everything I have is yours. But we also need to celebrate your brother’s return. The lost has been found.”
Through this parable, Jesus implies that this father is our model for abundant living. This is the way God looks at us . . . and the way we are to look at others. This father has more than enough love to go around. He even says that everything I have is yours – to the son who demanded his inheritance and now returns, as well as to the son who stayed home and benefited from everything his father has and was. With forgiveness in his heart and rejoicing in his voice, he offers both of his sons a home. His love is so abundant that there is no room for judgment; his mercy is so wide that it covers everyone, his grace is so complete that it spills out of him.
This is how God feels about us. While we shudder before him because of our sin, or hide from him because of our guilt, or dare to blame him for his unfairness, or accuse him of not caring, he is running toward us with his arms wide open to welcome us home. This is our example, our inspiration, our opportunity – and our joy. This story must leap to our minds and hearts when we are tempted to cast a critical eye, speak a hurtful word, hold a bitter grudge, hoard our treasures, shove our way past the “other,” or hide our forgiveness in a deep, dark well.
God says to each of his children, “My son, my daughter, you are always with me and everything I have is yours.”
Look for earlier posts in this series: Part 1 ; Part 2; Part 3 For information on Margaret Adams Parker’s Sculpture Reconciliation which is located on the campus of Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.eck out more information on Margaret Adams Parker’s Sculpture Reconciliation which is located on the campus of Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.