Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: The Prodigal Son

This book was originally published in 1996, in Paris.  It is now in its fourth printing in English.  It is a very, very short book, and its opening sentence typo did not encourage me to read on.  It reads:  “The parable of the Good Shepherd has been called ….”  Oops!
But I read on anyway, and I’m glad I did.
I, probably like you, have often reflected on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and my reflections have often been rewarded with new insights --- I’ve written about some of them here.  This particular book also presents some good insights, a few sentences here and there that I underlined, but it was only near the end, when it talks about the father character, that a key important insight is presented.  It presents, in words that really hit home for me, how really much the Father loves us.
“His father is so happy to be telling everyone about the return of the son he had been missing!”  The author had pointed out how selfish the Prodigal Son was and continued to be, even in his returning.  The son was returning for his own reasons, for food, and counting on his father’s generosity --- or at least pity.  He planned in advance the excuses he would make to his father to gain his pity.  The son had no idea how happy his return was going to make his father.  That thought never entered into his mind as he considered returning.
When I reflect on where my thoughts are at when I feel I am away from God, often they center on my sins and how they must sadden God --- heck, how much they sadden me --- and I think how I’ll never change and perhaps even that I seem a somewhat hopeless case.  Sometimes I feel as if God may be better off without me.  I think that surely there are others who must please him more, and I feel somewhat alone in my sinfulness.  This book, I think, states something truthfully which I know I DON’T reflect on when I think about the seriousness of my sin, and it is something most important.
“We discover the seriousness of (our) sin … only when we try to fathom how happy it makes God when we come back to Him.  The Prodigal Son never thought how happy he was going to make his father.  And we too forget that God is happy when he sees us coming toward him.  When you make the Sign of the Cross in the morning, when you kneel down at night, when you lift up your thoughts to him in the midst of the day’s occupations, when you make a detour to go into a church and pray for a while … every time you do these things, you make him happy.  His child is not lost, his child is not dead, his child is still with him.” 
“I leave you which this overwhelming truth, unbelievable as it seems:  we have the power to make God happy.”
Wow!  Just to go and be with Him, makes Him so happy!  We muse along and make plans and worry about our relationship with God, and are not at all aware of this most important thing TO HIM.  He just wants us to be with Him; He just wants to hug us.  Until he felt that hug, the Prodigal Son didn’t have a clue ---- and so often, neither do we.
For a short read, this book was long on goodness.

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