Splendor Veritatis

Sunday Readings Reflection: The Father's Mercy

September 11, 2016 - Spirituality & Theology

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables, about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The last of these is more often known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. I once heard a priest say in his homily that he disliked the title that scholars have given this parable, as it draws our focus away from the most important figure in the story. What is far more incredible and wonderful than the sinfulness of the prodigal son is the tremendous mercy of the father.

This father is much like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one lost one, or the woman who furiously looks for her lost coin. The merciful father was constantly watching for the return of his son, and when he saw him a long ways off, he “was filled with compassion…ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20). With these three parables, Jesus explains to us that God is much like the shepherd, the woman, and the father. He seeks us out with great love and compassion, and will not rest until we are in his arms. And when we return to Him, there will be great rejoicing in Heaven.

By our nature, we are sinful, and we fall again and again. Every time we turn away from God, no matter how far, God longs for us to return to Him. And when we turn back, seeking His mercy, we will see that He in fact never left our side. With open arms He welcomes us back, and pours out upon us His mercy, the same mercy that saved Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the early Christians, the same mercy that spared the Israelites who knelt in worship of the golden calf.