The parable of the prodigal son is my all-time favorite. What does “prodigal” really mean? According to Webster, prodigal is “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure” or can be a recklessly spendthrift nature. In the parable then, prodigal aptly describes a son who claims a premature inheritance, leaving his family to “party hardy” and to enjoy a wasteful and self-indulgent lifestyle in the process. He completely turns inward to self and away from the grace of God. Been there, done that.
As Paul Harvey might say, however, now for “the rest of the story.” Prodigal is also defined as “yielding abundantly,” “characterized by abundant growth,” and “abundantly and often extravagantly rich.” Sounds pretty good! This parable might just as aptly have been titled, “The Prodigal Father”. The father’s love for his son was infinitely abundant, infinitely extravagant as he welcomed him back home with open arms.
At Lent especially, our focus often seems to be on the sinful and dark side of our nature rather than on God’s rich, abundant and extravagant love for each of us. I know that no matter how far I’ve wandered, when I’ve turned back to God, I’ve fallen into arms eager to enfold me, to a heart lavishing me with extravagant love.
How are you finding Lent? Are you basking in God’s abundant love for you?
Kathy Flynn, Candidate