My daughter just finished a very special trip with her grandparents. Ten days visiting Washington, D.C.; seeing godparents; enjoying some new clothes; but most of all enjoying a different vision of the world she lives in. She learned a great deal about where she comes from on my side of the family. My daughter lives a very virtuous life, and is a role model for me her Dad. Her selflessness for living God’s law is impressive. While she was gone though, her absence let me think about how God’s relationship with each of us in the story of the Prodigal Son. This story is always about the tale of the two sons, but it also gives us a deep insight into the love of God for each of us.
In the previous excursions of my children with grandparents I never had a child who was at the age to explore life away from the family. This time though, my daughter took a trek to the outstanding Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. There she met one possible destiny. She saw shelves and shelves of great books. She sat in classes where she had more of the Shakespeare memorization complete then the students (recent homework at Regina Caeli), and also experienced a class knowing she was not yet ready for it. When she was done she found a great college, and felt it could be a home away from home for her.
My young lady left, and seriously contemplated the next phase of her life. Thankfully for me, her description of why included the statement “They really try to live out our Catholic faith there dad.” In the story of the Prodigal son, however, the boy wanting to live in man’s world chooses to live by his own rules. He leaves the father, and the father knows he may never come home. This faithful father also realizes the son may also forfeit a home in heaven for his soul, and this fate would trouble the father even more than a failure to return to the family home.
When the father sees his son coming home repenting of his sins, he rejoices. He hugs and adorns his child with all he can. While the physical return home is good, the father knows a repentant son will be with him forever in the paradise of heaven. Since tradition teaches us the father is symbolizing God the Father, we know the human joy and love we see pales to the love God has for us.
So when my daughter returned I rejoiced in having my faithful and true daughter in my care once again. I also thought of the Father in the Prodigal Son. Here a son, who was dead to him, returned home. The son showed repentance, and demonstrated his embrace of the Lord’s ways. If my joy was immense, I could only imagine the joy and love God poured forth into the moment when sinners come home.
What an awesome God to believe in, and see reflected in natural law throughout history.