The word PRODIGAL means: spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
We celebrate mid-lent today, (The Western church celebrates mid-lent and calls is Laetare Sunday, next Sunday with same gospel reading) with this most beautiful parable. Its vast panorama portrays three characters: the younger son, the older son, and the Father, and two opposite “angels/servants” those who serve and cleansed the lost son, and those who instigated the fight in the heart of the older son. It is the parable of the Prodigal Father we may say, Rich in Mercy. More than any other, the parable of the Prodigal Son convinces us of God’s tender and undying love for his sons and daughters. First, consider the younger son: “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” In a shocking act of non-negotiable, in-your-face self-centeredness, he demands from his father half of the family business in cash so that he can waste it in a distant land—perhaps Las Vegas or Miami. We might miss the outrage in his words—“I can’t wait for you to die, old man: give me your money now”. The lost son enters the empty lands of his own self-absorption, the vast barren regions where demons abide. He is truly the Lost Son.  Eventually, the Lost Son hits bottom, returns to his senses, and resolves to turn back to his father’s house. “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him.” The Father scans the horizon day after day, longing for his son, but refusing to force him. He detects only a glimmer in his son, a small speck on a distant horizon, slowly moving closer. He does not wait, but tucks up his noble robes and runs, not walks, but runs to his son. And all is forgiven. The Father does not even wait for his son to finish his confession: your sins do not matter now. All that matters is that I have you back, safe and sound. You have returned to me. God is always watching us, waiting for our next move. Thoughtlessly, we fear he watches our every move in order to condemn, waiting with baited breath to accuse us. But this image is not the Scriptural truth. Jesus, in his greatest parable, portrays a Father, rich in mercy, relenting in punishment, always ready to forgive. In the Bible, it is Satan who accuses. The ring, the finest robe, the fattened calf—all this is ours, if we return to our Father’s house. We can only do that through the grace of Christ. Therefore, Paul concludes, “we implore you: be reconciled to God.” Make a good confession, with your whole hearts. Return to your father’s house. He will run to greet you, with open arms, for my Son, he says, “was lost, and is found. He was dead, and has come back to life again.”