Returning to Our Father

Perhaps one of the more well-known parables in the Gospels is that of the Prodigal Son. The simplicity of the message, the power of the father’s love, touches all. We understand that there are times in or lives that we feel the need to find independence. This independence sometimes leads us away from those who love us, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally.

While striving to grow and mature we think, like the prodigal son in today’s Gospel reading, this requires cutting ourselves off from others in order to achieve independence. Growing and maturing means changing the manner in which we depend on one another in our relationships. The same with our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.

The son desired his inheritance from his father so he could go off on his own and do what he wanted to do, without restrictions; no one questioning him or helping him. He wanted independence. He believed too much in himself. Depended only on himself. When he had his wealth, he felt successful. After squandering away his inheritance he found himself emotionally empty. He no longer believed in himself; no longer trusted he could care for himself and decided to return to his father and ask to be a servant.

The son did not, nor could not, predict how his father would respond. His father’s love desired only the best for his son. When the father saw him in the distance, he did not care if his son failed and now needed help. The father rejoiced that his son returned and welcomed him with compassion and love, ‘he was dead and now is alive.’

This is how our Heavenly Father treats each one of us as we struggle to grow and mature in our relationship with him. Perhaps we have not experience this in our relationships with others, but our Heavenly Father has no limits on love. No matter how far we drift away from God, He waits for us compassionately, lovingly until we realize that we cannot possible do everything by ourselves.

We cannot grow in faith alone. Our spiritual lives cannot mature if we depend only on our self and it cannot grow if we think someone has to do it for us. This can only happen with repentant heart; a heart willing to admit to one’s self that change needs to happen. Every year, the Church provides and encourages this change with a period of time to search within our hearts and reflect on who we are as a person and how we explore our relationship with God. We travel this journey side by side with the faithful of our parish, with family, and with friends, to experience and grow in faith through prayer, worship, education, and fellowship.