On the second Sunday of the Triodion, the Church calls our attention to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the beauty of repentance. In the story, just to remind you, the younger son felt that he deserved his inheritance early, before his father’s death. He approached his father and said, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” (Luke 15.12) The father gave the son permission to take his inheritance and journey “to a far country,” in which he wasted every last penny on sinful living. In the deepest depth of sin and despair, the son realizes his mistake and chooses to return to his father and beg for a job. The father not only welcomes him home, he, “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15.20)
While the son was away, the father waited and watched for him to return. He had given his permission for the son to leave, but never approved of the life the son had chosen to live. That is the love of a father, who knowing certain choices are wrong and dangerous, still allows his son to walk away from him. All the while, the son, thinking he was free from his father’s control, lived according to his own choices. But the father, while not approving of the son’s choices, never gave up hope for the son’s return.
This is a great struggle in our contemporary American society in which we are constantly told, “You are ok just the way you are. God loves you no matter what!” This statement is only partially true. YES! God loves us no matter what, just as the father loved the Prodigal Son no matter what choices he made. The father desires for the son to make better decisions and return home. God gives us the same permission to live according to our choices. He doesn’t always approve of those choices, but He allows them hoping that we will choose to return to Him, as the Prodigal Son returned.
With the coming of Great Lent, we are given an opportunity to CHOOSE to return to God’s way of life, and be restored to our original glory. But before we can return, we must first realize that just because God allows us choices, doesn’t mean He approves of the choices we make.