There are three main characters in this Gospel—the father, the faithful son, and the son who squanders it all. Most reflections I’ve heard focus on one of these men. Up until today, I have never thought to put myself in the shoes of the servants.
There is one word that comes up in my heart when I reflect on their point of view—astonishment. They had no reason to be bitter about the father’s generosity. They likely weren’t upset or angry about it. But they watched the scene unfold, and I imagine they were purely flabbergasted, passing the news around with incredulous looks on their faces, saying, “You’ll never believe who’s home . . . and you’ll never guess what the Master has done . . . he is throwing a feast!”
The mercy of the father was so unreserved, so unforeseen—and these servants had a front row seat to watch in astonishment as the father poured this love over his lost and broken son.
When was the last time you were astonished by the mercy of God the Father?
One summer night years ago, I attended a weekly evening of Reconciliation. The priest and I sat outside the door of the church in rickety white folding chairs as he heard my confession. All of a sudden, as I stated my sins, I was completely astonished by the mercy of God and began weeping—loudly! The priest kept kindly telling me to be quieter, but I couldn’t! I was so overcome by the reality that Jesus would meet me in the middle of the mess of sin I’d made and receive me, His lost and broken daughter, with such tenderness and mercy.
It is not often I find myself stunned in this way—it is so very easy to grow complacent to mercy. It can be easy to treat Reconciliation as another chore or a box to check. But on this day, as we read this Gospel once again, I pray our hearts may be moved by the utterly shocking nature of God’s love—that we may allow it to take our breath away every time the priest holds his arm up to offer absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Today, in a brand new way, may we be astonished by the unfathomable mercy of our God. And visit the confessional! Download an Examination of Conscience from us here.
Emily Wilson-Hussem planned her whole life to become a sports reporter but turned out to be a Catholic musician and speaker at the hand of God. She lives out of her suitcase and travels across the world speaking to people of all ages. The heart of her ministry is offering encouragement to teen girls in search of their true identity, and she loves every second of it. She is the author of I Choose the Sky. You can find out more about her here.