Prodigal Son. Loving Father.

“Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.” He put out his hand.

So the father, who never denied his sons their free will, divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country… ( Luke 15: 12-13)

It was early; dawn. The sun crept over the horizon. The father walked slowly towards the front door. His hands clasped, raised midway in front of his stomach. The porter stood up as he approached and gave a slight bow. He acknowledged him with a gentle smile. He didn’t open the door this time. Instead he perched himself in front of the narrow window adjacent and scanned the horizon. He waited. The sun rose. The bell for breakfast rang. He did not budge. He scanned the horizon again. There was no movement.

“Sir, would you like me to keep watch outside today?”

He broke his gaze finally and looked upon the young guard. He couldn’t have been much younger than his son.

“If you would.”

“Yes, sir.” The guard watched as the old man folded his hands behind his back and slowly walked towards the interior of the home. His back slightly hunched, the burden he carried since that day.

It had been three months since his son left with his half of the inheritance. For the last ninety days the father would come to the front door in the morning always at the same hour. Shortly after lunch he would take long walks around the perimeter of the property. At night he would walk  the ramparts; under the stars and the moon canvassing the shadows, listening to the sounds. He anxiously awaited the return of his son. He longed for it like a deer longs for running streams. Although everyone else had written him off before he had left, he loved him. He knew him and what his soul was capable of. He retained the certainty that his son would return.

It was mid-afternoon. He approached the porter. He had a broad rimmed hat and walking staff for the daily walk. The porter stood up as he approached and gave a slight bow. He acknowledged him with a gentle smile. The porter smiled in loyalty to his master but was queasy inside. His heart was moved to pity for the father whose eyes gleamed with hope and his step with hopeful anxiety.

“Sir,”

“My boy,” he said placing his hand on his shoulder, “Keep watch while I go and stand ready. Do not relax. Do not rest.”

“Yes, sir.”

The father stepped outside the door and paused. He let his eyes adjust to the dark green leaves swaying on the trees, the birds dancing across the fields, the plump bumble bees sprinting across the flowers. The bulbous clouds floated slowly across the blue sky. He scanned the beautiful creation from east to west, when suddenly, the “father caught sight of [his son], and was filled with compassion.” The dam of tears broke and flooded his eyes. His heart exploded with love. ‘He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.”

The father shook his head and turned to the servants that followed, “Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,” He gazed back upon the contrite and tear filled face of his son, placed his hands over his ears and proclaimed joyfully, “because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” He then wrapped his arms around him enveloping him in a warm, tight embrace.

Then the celebration began.

(cf Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32)

***

The son was lost. He had been found because as he lived a life of squalor in a far off country separated from his father, he examined his conscience and realized how good life was at home, in the father’s house. Convinced this was the better life he returned with haste. And as the Gospel shows us, the father, filled with compassion is all too ready to accept us back with a loving embrace. It is comforting to know that if we wander from the narrow road God will be looking for us, waiting for us, and accepting us back unconditionally.

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