The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ “
Archimandrite Zacharias writes about Christ’s parable of the Prodigal Son:
“Remembering his father’s house, the prodigal son comes to himself and says, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s house have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’ We all have buried memories of our Father’s house, for our soul will forever retain traces of the grace of being clothed with Christ in Holy Baptism. Moreover, each time we partake of the Holy Mysteries, our being is indelibly marked with God’s goodness. In the heart of the prodigal, now, another humble thought surfaces: ‘I will arise and go to my father…’ The process of inner regeneration has now begun, for he has resolved to rise from his fall. Having seen the reality of his perdition, he now returns within himself and towards God. His dynamic increase in God has begun. He is ready to be enlightened and cleansed, for he has begun to speak truthfully with God from the depth of his heart.
The prayers of a fragmented mind have neither clarity nor depth, but a mind that is reunited with the heart overflows with humble prayer and has such strength that it reaches the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth. ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.’ Man then discovers the power of humility, and sees that the only right attitude is to render all glory and honor to God, and to himself ‘the shame of face’ because of his sins. He now puts all his trust in the Father’s mercy, and no longer in his corrupt self, and this disposition of heart leads to true repentance. As we read in one of the great ‘kneeling prayers’ at Pentecost: ‘Against Thee we have sinned, but Thee only do we worship. ‘ We are sinful and unworthy of His mercy, but we have full confidence in Him Whom we worship. This ‘but’ cannot be said without faith, and this faith is the rock upon which we build our spiritual life.” (Remember Thy First Love, pgs. 130-131)
See also my blog Images from the Prodigal Son