Today’s Gospel reading of the Return of the Prodigal Son is a classic parable that fits seamlessly with the themes of the Lenten Season: repentance, forgiveness, God’s mercy. I’m sure that at one time or another, this story has resonated with each of us. Maybe we have seen ourselves as the younger son in this story, or possibly as the older son.
In Fr. Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son he shares his thoughts and reflections on Rembrandt’s painting depicting this parable. One of the ideas I found most impactful in that book was when Nouwen said that whether we identify with the younger or the older son, we are all called to be the father. At the end of the Gospel reading, we hear the older son is complaining to his father about his brother’s past wrongdoings but in return we see the father, keeping no record of wrongs, completely forgive his younger son and rejoice in his homecoming.
Earlier, in 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, St. Paul tells us that God was, “not counting their [our] trespasses against them [us] and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” St. Paul is telling us that God not only forgives us completely but also entrusts us to share that with others. So, this Lent, I encourage and challenge us all to not only be grateful for God’s love and mercy but to also be “ambassadors for Christ” in sharing that love and mercy with others on our journey to becoming more like the father of the prodigal son.