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A certain man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living. When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need...When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ So he got up and went to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. - Luke 15: 11-24
The prodigal son reminds me both of myself, and most college students I know. He goes out alone, trying to find himself, doing things that aren’t great, and spending all his money. This is his father’s money, and we can imagine that the son also rolled his eyes and didn’t even thank his father. Sounds like a familiar scene between a young adult and a parent. The surprising thing in this story is always the redemption. The father welcomes his son with open arms, despite the son’s expectations. The son feels unworthy, but God gives him grace and joy by welcoming him home. Our parents welcome us home after difficult semesters and greet us with joy. I think this story tells us a lot about the nature of God. God picks up the downtrodden and those in need of redemption and gives them grace, no questions asked. We can mess up so many times, but we are still worthy in God’s eyes, and we will always be welcomed home with joy.
Gracious God, we will never understand the depth of your compassion for us, and how you can continually meet us with joy, but help us to emulate your grace by showing this compassion to others. Amen.