This parable could also be called the Parable of the Older Son or the Parable of the forgiving Father. Each of these persons speaks to us in different, but equally powerful ways. They mark out three paths to Easter. We will deal with the Prodigal Son in this short reflection. This son demands his inheritance, goes off to a distant country and loses it all. This unnamed ‘Country’ is more than a place. It is really a way of living, a condition of the heart. Maybe we have known the “distant country” where we leave Church and Gospel to follow our own way.
We are lured to a place where “sin” is made to look like fun. But sin is not fun for long. Sin is fun until a person becomes addicted to drugs. Sin is fun until drinking harms or hurts another or ourselves. Sin is fun until infidelity destroys a marriage and a family. Sin is fun until greed, arrogance or deception distort our lives out of shape and leave us isolated from God and from others, morally ruined. This the “distant country “ we all have known in some way.
When the prodigal son comes to his senses, we have the moment of recognition: “I have sinned.” It is the moment when he no longer blamed his father, for being too indulgent, when he no longer blamed society for being too immoral, when he no longer blamed his employer for being unfair, when he longer blamed his own immaturity for being unwise, when he no longer blamed his genetic makeup or birth order for making him rebellious. “ I have sinned! “ That moment is the key to a different future for him and the Key to the rest of his life.
It is a sign of moral awakening and spiritual maturity to be able to say, “I have sinned”. The path to Easter for the prodigal son and for us lies in the crucial importance of being able to say, “I have sinned.”