The Prodigal’s Joy 


Today the Gospel lesson for the Orthodox Church is Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. St Silouan the Athonite draws several lessons from Christ’s parable. The first lesson is about the soul’s joyful experience of becoming aware of God’s presence in the world. God’s love for us should be a powerfully attracting force in our lives, like that of the Prodigal’s father. 

The soul that has come to know the Lord is instinctively sensible of the presence of her Creator, and dwells in him in great peace and joy. To what can I liken this joy? It is like the joy that abounds when a beloved son returns to his father’s house after long years in a far country, and can talk to his dear ones –his father and mother, brothers and sisters –to his heart’s content. 


O ye peoples of the earth, fashioned by God, know your Creator and His love for us! Know the love of Christ, and live in peace and thereby rejoice the Lord, Who in His mercy waits for all men to come to Him. 

Turn to Him, all ye peoples of the earth, and lift up your prayers to God; and the prayers of the whole earth shall rise to heaven like a soft and lovely cloud lit by the sun, and all the heavens will rejoice, and sing praises to the Lord for His sufferings whereby He saved us. 


Know, all ye peoples, that we are created for the glory of God in the heavens. Cleave not to the earth, for God is our Father and He loves us like dear children. (ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, pp 358-359) 

The next lesson is that when we come to God, even with our sins before us, when we come to confess our sins, God loves us and welcomes us as the father welcomed his prodigal son. God does not condemn us when we approach Him, but embraces us. 


The Lord loves us, and gently, without reproach, receives us, just as the father in the Gospel story did not reproach his prodigal son but called his servants to bring a new robe, and put a precious ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and told them to kill the fatted calf, and be merry; and in nothing did he condemn his son. 

O, how gently and patiently in our turn must we set our brother right, that there may be rejoicing in the soul over his return! 

The Holy Spirit teaches the soul ineffable lovingkindness. (ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, pp 363-364) 


As God welcomes us as repentant sinners, so too we should love and encourage sinners who approach us to ask forgiveness or whom we decide to approach and speak to them about the Father’s love for us.