“His father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran to him…” (Lk 15:20)
God’s incomprehensible love of penitent sinners*. Though the sinner has offended Him so grievously and so often, yet He reproaches him not, but forgives him everything, and restores him to his former rights and dignity of sonship.
– He re-clothes him with the robe of innocence, i.e. sanctifying grace (ROBE) (Lk 15:22).
– He adorns him again with the supernatural virtues befitting the state of divine sonship (RING) (Lk 15:22).
– He enables him to walk justly before God (SHOES) (Lk 15:22).
– He prepares a feast for the converted sinner, giving him the Lamb of God, for the nourishment of his soul, in Holy Communion (FATTENED CALF) (Lk 15:23).
God alone can love this in this way, and to us this sort of love is inconceivable. Our Lord portrays this narrow-mindedness of ours in the conclusion of the parable. The elder son cannot understand his father’s joy; he murmurs at it, and refuses to take part in it; and even professes to believe that his father prefers the returned prodigal to himself, the faithful, obedient and industrious son. By this behavior of the elder son our Lord signifies the jealousy of the Pharisees, who considered themselves to be just, and murmured at the deep interest Jesus took in sinners. By the father’s answer in the parable our Lord shows how very unjustifiable any such jealousy would be. The just man ought to think of the great happiness which he has had of being always in the love and grace of God: and if he will try to realize what the infinite love of God is for every soul which He has made, he will rejoice with God as often as a soul which had been lost is found or saved. As the angels rejoice (Lk 15:10) over the return of the prodigal, so ought we to rejoice over the conversion of sinners!
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*Thanks to F. Knecht for his sublime work from which this post is drawn. None of this post is original. Its entirety is drawn from “A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture” by Frederick Justus Knecht, which is currently out of print.