The Prodigal Son is one of the most important teaching parables of Jesus. It was common among Jewish teachers to use comparisons from the daily life of their people to demonstrate how they should live according to the Torah, the Word of God, and his Commandments.
This parable may rather be more fittingly called the Parable of the Merciful Father, as it demonstrates the compassion of the Heavenly Father in human terms – It is this aspect that Jesus wants to emphasise the most.
The Son of God has come to reveal his Father to us so that we may model ourselves according to his compassionate image. Jesus stresses in his teachings how God often prefers compassion to fasting. This is the lesson and the goal for us to strive towards during this season of Lent. In this awesome parable we also see the extent of God’s compassion. The Father is not only forgiving towards his prodigal son but he is also patient with the righteous older brother. In fact he judges no one but loves and rejoices in everyone. What a positive image of God is Jesus portraying for us here in this story! This is the kind of God whom we approach after having strayed away; and also after having been judgmental towards others.
It is this Father of Mercy that the Church wants us to approach during this season of forgiveness through his beloved Son Jesus. It is through the model of the beloved son that the love of God becomes victorious in the life, passion, and resurrection of Jesus.
In the Hoosoyo the Bride-Church calls onto Christ saying:
You are the true light coming into the world. You are the only Way leading to the Father. You lived among us and showed us your love.
Then she – the Mother Church – asks the Lord – like the Merciful Father – to show his compassion for her children:
Open your loving arms to them and bring them closer to your heart so that they may meet you with joy and find happiness in knowing you.
In the Qolo the Church recognizes Jesus the Lord, as the New Adam, who shined forth from the Father’s heart, and who came to renew our human image according to his own.
It is by this light incarnate that humanity is now instructed, and receives the gospel of God’s love and forgiveness. And just as the prodigal son returned to his Father’s house, now Jesus brings us back to his Father having taken upon himself the fall of our sins; and having enlightened us with the light and joy of his holy gospel. Therefore let us forgive that we may be forgiven; and with the Father and the Son and in the Holy Spirit let us rejoice and celebrate for we were once (many times) lost and we now have been found!
Fr Maroun El Kazzi