We Are All Prodigal Sons, and God Wants to Welcome Us All Back Extravagantly (Lenten Scriptural Commentary #26)
"The prodigal is every person who has turned away from God, whether by daily sins or an entire life of disregarding Him. Christians may think that the story isn’t about them, but if we turn away from God at all in our lives, which we do every day, then it is indeed about us."
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
In today’s readings, God provides for the Israelites, Paul explains the transformation that happens to us when we live lives “in Christ,” and Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Readings: Jos 5:9a, 10-12/2 Cor 5:17-21/Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
(2 Cor 5: 17)
Being “in Christ” means surrendering yourself to Him and living a life in accordance with Him and His will.
The “old things” of living life for yourself, and solely for material gain in this world, have been replaced with the “new things” of God, of living in His Kingdom. As the readings in Lent have shown, we do this by cleaning out our hearts, treating other people well, and remembering to put God first.
Surrendering yourself to Christ does not take away your freedom. Paradoxically, it is the only way to be truly free. If Christ is God, surrendering to Him means getting closer to the life that God wants for you. If God exists, and He has given us a road map about how to live life to its fullest, that’s the way to be truly free, truly alive.
"My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.”
(cf. Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32)
What the prodigal son does is incredibly disrespectful. He asks for his inheritance while his father is still in good health, which in that time meant that he saw his father as just as good as dead. By selling it to someone outside of the family, he was repudiating his heritage. By squandering the money he received, he was showing that he didn’t even care about it.
The father had every right to be consumed with bitterness. It would be tough for us not to be if we were in that situation.
But that’s not the way that God works.
The prodigal is every person who has turned away from God, whether by daily sins or an entire life of disregarding Him. Christians may think that the story isn’t about them, but if we turn away from God at all in our lives, which we do every day, then it is indeed about us.
Whether we deal with regular daily sins, or have ignored God completely throughout our lives, God wants to welcome us back extravagantly. It is natural for a person who has lived a life without God to think that they aren’t worthy of His love, that they have done things that are so terrible that God would never forgive them.
This parable is God saying, with many exclamation points, that this is not the case.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.