“This son of mine was dead before but has come back to life…” (Luke 15:24)
When I woke up this morning. I said my prayers and opened my Bible to reflect on the readings of the 4th Sunday of Lent. Something struck me about the gospel on the story of the prodigal son. So, I decided to post it on my WhatsApp status. That thing is, “To love people wholeheartedly is to choose to be vulnerable. The only completely human heart is a heart that allows itself to be broken; that chooses to be broken.” One of the students in the university parish, where I worked in past decided to engage me on that quote. In fact, I will quote him exactly. He said, “I understand that loving is to choose to be vulnerable. But just loving anyhow (allowing your heart to be broken over and over again), is there wisdom in such?” That was the question he asked me. And then he added, “ It is only [a stupid person] that chooses to love. This is the slangs on the street.” Of course, we discussed at length and he came to see a point in what I was able to tell him. Gerrard (that’s his name) helped me to understand what the father did in the story of the prodigal son as seen in the gospel of today.
What a father he is! His son comes and asks for his own share of inheritance. In effect, the son is saying, “As far as I am concerned, you are dead to me.” Then he goes away to a distant land and wastes all the money with prostitutes and messes up his life. He starts to starve. In the end, he decides to go home, not because he loves his father but because he wants to survive. What did the father do? Even before the son approaches home, he is already in front of the gate to welcome him. You could tell his father has been up all night praying for his return. His father does not go about his usual business, giving up hope on him. He has been waiting for this day. He never said, “out of sight is out of mind.” No! He does not say that. He cannot forget his son. His heart is broken.
It is true that God does not fall in love or out of love, as we human beings do. This is because God is love. He is totally unchangeable and eternal. But God is both human and divine. His heart can be broken. Sometimes, we think God cannot suffer. God can and has suffered for us. This is because God is love. To love someone is to give your heart to someone. If you do not want to suffer in this world, the worst thing you can do is to give your heart to someone or to love someone. “To love someone completely is to choose to be vulnerable.” Although he was God, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, he emptied himself and being born in the likeness of human beings. That is God making himself vulnerable – born in the manger, suffered, died, etc. All these was because of his unconditional love for us.
Through the story of the prodigal son, Jesus shows us the nature of the Father. God is happy whenever we do good. But whenever we go astray, he begins to have sleepless nights. He does not rest. He does not go about his normal business. He is always standing in front of the house seeking for us to come back. Whenever we leave the presence of the Father, let this gospel today give us an inking of what he is going through at home. And may it ginger us to quickly return to him so that Daddy can be happy.