The Prodigal Son, Revisited
Eric Hollas, OSB
Delivered at Saint John’s Abbey, 2 March 2013
There’s something for everyone in the parable of the prodigal son, because sooner or later all of us walk in the shoes of the father and his two sons. All of us have things to regret and behavior for which we should ask forgiveness. All of us are the prodigal son; and if it is hard for us to admit our own failings to one another, it’s our loss.
But the most important point of this parable, I think, is the contrast between the father and the elder son. Are we capable of forgiving one another? Can we unburden ourselves of the hurts done to us? Can we forgive and get on with our lives, as does the father? Or do insults and little snubs become the defining pieces of our personality? If it is the latter, we are doomed to carry a lot of baggage through life. And like people who are hoarders, this baggage is not life-giving.
Forgiveness of one another is clearly the best option, as Jesus suggests when he urges us to forgive our brothers and sisters seventy times seven times. That repeated forgiveness may or may not do much good to help out our brother or sister. But it will free us from the power of evil over our lives. That forgiveness will free us to walk joyfully with God and with one another.