Day 26 – Learn from the Penitent Son




As you read this parable, an objection might pop up in your mind: the father's action upon the return of his son does not make sense. Being a rich and successful person, the father was not naive enough to spoil his recovered son upon his return. The father who knew his son well also knew what was best for him. He knew it took his son great courage, determination, and perseverance in order to make it home from the distant country! While his son did not understand his father, the father was aware of the character of his wayward son. He knew what it meant for his son to come back to him. He wanted the son to feel a complete acceptance of his return by his father.

Unconditional forgiveness and mercy inspire corrective actions on the part of the penitent more effectively than punishment based on justice.

Having said that, there are a lot of good qualities we can learn from this remorseful son.

His repentance is genuine and complete as he turned away from his evil ways, turning from darkness to light. It must have taken him tremendous courage and determination to renounce his dissipated lifestyle and fight against all sorts of temptations and addictions. Being guilt-ridden, he must dread to face his own sinful past and to face his father. So by making a long trip back home, it spoke volume about his strong will to stay awake and remain sober, while taking up courage to be responsible for his past mistakes. He had also overcome his inaction by getting out of his comfort zone in order to steer clear from his sinful past.

We should also applaud his turning away from being egocentric and selfish; from disregarding his father's feelings, taking things for granted and going his own way, to reaching out to his father with a sincere effort to mend their relationship.

He used to not believe that his father would give him the best. Now, he entrusted himself to his father's will by submitting himself to be his father's servant, doing his father's work instead of focusing on his own.

There, we can see a significant change in his personality from being a person of ingratitude to be more content and grateful for what he would be provided.

Willing to humble himself, he had found his new purpose in life. He turned away from being pleasure driven and not willing to work, to learning to assume responsibility in earning his own livelihood. From a misguided perspective on his life purposes, he had learned how to lead an honest and simple life. From his realization of his father's goodness in treating his hired workers well, he began to see the beauty of his father.

Finally, he turned away from harbouring an untamed heart to nurturing a tamed and obedient heart.

He learned to surrender himself completely to the father's will, submitting himself to his discipline, rules and boundaries. He chose not to let his ego and ambition run wild as he did in the past in his own distant country.

All these changes were treasured in the heart of the father. He knew that his son had truly repented from his sinful past. Instead of punishing him to be his servant, the father chose to embrace him again with love and mercy. It was something that his elder son did not agree with, which led to his bitterness and grudges.


In what ways are you like the younger son before his repentance?

What can you learn from the penitent son? Can you appreciate his effort on his journey of repentance?

Can you relate to the father's heart in embracing his long lost son with open arms?


Dear Abba Father, I see Your image in the father in the parable of the lost son. A contrite and humbled heart, you will not despise. No matter how long I have gone to my distant country, and how far away I have been turning away from You, You are always there for me, waiting for my return. Your patience and gentleness have moved me to tears. How can I run away from Your love, Lord! Please grant me a heart of true repentance, and the necessary determination to stay on course until I am back to Your embrace! Let me learn from this younger son to muster up courage to fight against all evils to win my prize that is in You!

I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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Sincerely invite you to share the reflections that inspires you by this day's retreat.