Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-32. Jesus tells this story as a parable. It is the story of a man with two sons. It is the story of a son who wanted everything, while he was still young enough to enjoy it. He demanded his share of the inheritence from his father. His father gave it to him, and the boy went off, into a far distant land and spent every penny. I would say that he wasted it in living. He even has to become a swineherd. Which in Judean times would be considered the lowest of the low. Especially since the Jewish people could not even eat swine. He finally comes to his senses and decides to come home where even his fathers servants are treated better than he is being treated. He knows that if he becomes his fathers servant, he will have food to eat and clothes to wear.
But when he returns home, his father welcomes him with open arms, barely listens to his apology, and kills the fatted calf to celebrate his return. The older son becomes jealous because the father is doing all this for the one who ran away and he (the older son) never left. And the father chastises him for his feelings of jealousy. And reminds him that all the father has is this son's. And he should rejoice because the brother who was dead, is alive again and that which was lost is found.
The son who was lost, had no expectations of a welcome from his father. He was willing to be a servant, he was willing to do whatever his father would give him to do. The message of this story for me, is that our Heavenly Father loves each one of us. He loves us so much that He is willing to forgive us if we simply come back to him. He is so patient with us, through all our doubts and fears and our insistance that we can make it on our own. He stands ready to enfold you within His arms and welcome you back into His fold.
The road back for the prodigal can be such a long one! Most of us have our own prodigal stories. Times in our lives when we have sacrificed the things that were most important, for the things that we thought we wanted most right now. We have had to walk the long road back from sin. We have had to struggle with, not only forgiving others, but also forgiving ourselves.
The story of the prodigal son is for each one of us. Are we not all prodigals? Have we not each commited sin? Like the rebellious son, we have each left our premortal home and come to a far country. Like the prodigal, we share in a divine inheritance with our father. Through our sins, we squander part of our inheritance on the things of the world. We immerse ourselves in doing wasteful things. No matter what the sin is, it pulls us away from the spirit of our Heavenly Father. Like the foolish son, we learn through experience that the things of the world are not what we need to return back home. They blind our eyes and stop up our ears so that we don't recognize what we need.
. But the story is also one of hope for each us. The time will come when we recognize how much our Father wants to give us, and that only through repentance and the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, can we go back home. Only true repentace enables us to see ourselves as we really are. Unworthy in every way of the blessing that He has to offer. Then, will He work His miracle of forgiveness upon us and we will be allowed into his presence. Then will He embrace us and welcome us home.
As a mother, I think that Heavenly Father gives us examples in the scriptures to teach us that even when it appears as if those we love will never come back home, don't give up hope. Keep your faith. Pray diligently in their behalf and be ready to welcome them when they do come. And above all things, remember that love is most important of all. The invitation to "come home" is open to each one of us. To come unto Christ who atoned for our sins and made it possible for us to be welcomed again into His loving embrace.
“The story of the prodigal son gives us all hope. The prodigal remembered home, as will your children. They will feel your love drawing them back to you. Elder Orson F. Whitney, in a general conference of 1929, gave a remarkable promise, which I know is true, to the faithful parents who honor the temple sealing to their children: ‘Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold.’ ”
Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 72