When the prodigal son made his way home He said to himself, “How many of my father’s hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father.”
The son was not eager to see his father, but hungered for a burning desire to stay alive picturing the bountiful feast they were having at the house. Moreover, in the back of his mind he was probably preparing the lecture of a lifetime from his father regarding his misdeeds, failures, life choices, and layabout life.
Instead, that is not what we see happen. His father didn’t cross-examine the boy, lecture him on ingratitude, or scold him for being such a disappointment. He, rather, was so overjoyed at the sight of his son that he ignored all the canons of prudence and parental discretion and simply welcomed him home. The father took him back just as he was and pardoned his sons past.
What an amazing picture of forgiveness and compassion. We don’t have to sift our hearts and analyze our intentions before returning home. God just wants us to show up. We don’t have to be shredded with sorrow or crushed with contrition. We don’t have to be perfect or even very good before God will accept us. He already has. We don’t have to wallow in guilt, shame, remorse, and self-condemnation.
Even if we come back because we couldn’t make it on our own, God will welcome us. He will seek no explanations about our sudden appearance. He is glad we are there and have come to His embrace with a sincere heart.