Today God's revelation to us in Scripture presents us with a mirror reflecting our Creator God and his choice creation, man. Unquestionably as each faithful and thinking believer attempts to fathom the mystery of God, we come to a most excellent understanding and clear perception of precisely who and what our God is like from the prescribed gospel narrative today. Our Lord continually described himself in relation to our heavenly Father. Insisting both He and the Father are one, in essence, in purpose and mind. Unquestionably with all the strokes painted for us by the hand of our Saviour, we come to receive a perfect portrait of our God.
But no more sublime, no more perfect, no more complete picture is presented us than encapsulated in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus tells us what our heavenly Father is like, for we see him in the complete goodness, the total love, the tender care and the sublime forgiveness of a devoted father in the narrative. In this concise description we are also taught what man is like and this is especially important for us as we stand before the doors of repentance and the Great Fast which is quickly approaching.
After coming to a realization of the ready availability of forgiveness to a repentant a child of God with appropriate disposition last Sunday, today we inspired to overcome our self-imposed limitations and return to the source of spiritual security from which we have strayed. Today we are taught that in repentance we are sorry for our sins, we must leave them behind and we must come in faith to the embracing and eager arms of our heavenly Father.
The reality and truth we hear today is often described as the most poignant, compelling, beautiful, meaningful, even overwhelming of all stories related to us by the Lord. It is a story meant to dramatically illustrate the nature and character of our God, a story to teach, certainly not at all to entertain or simply take up our time.
A man had two sons of which the younger was unhappy about life at home. Thinking he would be more fulfilled away from the presence of his father, along with the rules and regulations of the household, away from the familiar friends he knew all his life, away from the security he always knew, that if he wandered away to "live it up", he could become a fulfilled man separated from his limiting existence and "find" himself, as so many silly, superficial, simple people think today. So, initially we see the parable is timely and appropriate.
As always the fool entertains while wise men feast. All the wealth shared with the fool is quickly dissipated and spent, wasted and squandered in riotous living, in an attempt to taste all the pleasure physical beings are able to experience. So; it is not joy and glory discovered by the young man, but pain and disgrace. He has no friends except those he can buy with favors. He tastes of the sweets of the world and finds them extremely bitter. When his wealth is gone, so is the company eager to share them. He has no one left to party with because he has no funds to provide a party. Wealth gone, fair-weather friends gone as well. When he had funds, everyone was interested in his company. Now he is broke and in abject poverty and no one wishes to hear the sad story.
To exacerbate the circumstances a famine comes to the land. He literally begins to seriously hunger and having no connections with people of influence, he must take the lowest job on the social ladder - feeding swine in a field. He has to swallow his pride as a Jew who can have absolutely nothing to do with pigs. Further still he is so desperate he must eat the swills that were meant for the animals. On his own, he realizes he is not too successful, even compared to the frail standards of the world.
Finally, finally he realizes his destiny is not with broken dreams or impossible always changing and always diminishing standards of the world. He at last, comes to his senses. He sits down and examines himself. How grievously wrong he has been! He learns the hard way that created by God for God, he cannot live without God. He has forsaken himself and abandoned his father. He has denied his own identity and nature and now realizes how important it is.
He will do what must be done, the only thing that can be done, the last realistic alternative. He gets up from his self-pity and achieves reality. Servants in his father's home have more security and dignity than he. "I will go to my father and will say to him, "Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Receive me as a hired servant."