Who do you think you are in the story of the prodigal son? I can’t help but ask myself that question when I read this parable.
Am I the younger son? Yes. So often I run away from my home in God’s embrace to look for peace and joy elsewhere. I think I can be fulfilled by the world, but the world leaves me empty and wanting. I make mistakes and must humble myself to turn back to God.
But am I the older son too? Yes I am. In the times I stay close to God, I fall easily into pride–thinking I’m better than others who fall into worse sins than I do. I feel like God’s unconditional love is unfair. I wrestle to understand mercy in times when I feel harsh justice would be appropriate.
And yet, I want to be the father too. I want to be so full of the light of God’s love that it overflows to everyone around me–those fallen far from God, and those who stay close to Him. I want to live out the love God bestows upon me and lavish that love on everyone, with no strings attached, no conditions weighing down my love.
I want to be merciful like the father, but it seems that first I have to accept mercy myself… I am at times both a sinner and a saint, both the obedient and the wayward child… God give me the grace to accept mercy and allow myself to be loved no matter what.
Can you do the same? I’m praying for you.
Christina Mead, Assistant Director of Resource Development, Life Teen, Inc.