He came to his senses

How many people are there who still rejoice over some decision they made, perhaps years ago, that changed their lives? If I had not done such and such where would I be now? I know one who told me he was within an inch of becoming “a street kid” since there seemed to be no hope. But someone or something intervened and he was able to set himself on a new path and is now married with his own home and family.

On the other hand there are many who deeply regret some decision they made which also changed their lives for ever? They slipped or took a wrong turn and now see no way back. In their case neither friends nor others who tried to help could reach them at that point where they could make a life-changing decision. The person becomes trapped in unhappiness which he or she feels powerless to alter.

The story of the “Prodigal Son” is known far beyond the confines of religious usage or biblical knowledge. It graphically sums up the tragedy welded to our human nature. We are drawn to opt for immediate satisfaction – no matter what the hurt to others or to ourselves. We abandon our power to think and surrender to impulses and instincts without reflection. How often we are driven by these instincts!

The beauty of the Prodigal Son story is the phrase “he came to his senses”. He suddenly realises things do not have to be as they are. I have the power to change. He makes a decision. He is a little fearful of what his father will say, but he has some confidence he will be accepted back, at least as a hired servant. What he had no idea of was the cascade of welcome he would receive when he reached home. The Father showers him with signs of welcome and love and we have the distinct feeling that the young man is now twice the person he was before he left home.

He has dishonoured his father, yes, but now his eyes are open and he realises the broad picture of the compassion and love that the Father longs to show. His “joy is so great he cannot believe it” (Luke 24:40). Countless people have lived in this joy: Mary Magdalene, Paul, Augustine and Ignatius of Loyola are just some of the better known names. Someone who does not know what forgiveness is will show little love (Luke 7:47). It is part of the beauty of the Christian message – and the message too of the great religions – that it is in our weakness that we are strong (2 Cor. 11:10).

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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