I’m studying the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, and I realize again the vital practice of seeing oneself as the parent who welcomes home. The father in the parable runs with compassion towards his wayward son who now has started his journey back home.
What I notice most is the running. I notice how the son has not yet repented, has not yet made anything right, has not yet showed any change of lifestyle. But these behaviors were never a condition for the father’s response.
This terrible son has brought great shame upon himself and his family. This terrible son has wasted the family’s resources. This terrible son has ruined so much.
Yet the father runs with compassion. The father dresses him with honor. The father prepares a lavish feast. And even as the older brother responds with jealousy and anger, the father stops to love and instruct him as well.
I think about preparing a feast of love, gifts, and honor for those around me on the journey. Instead of shaming, punishment, or anger, for example, when my children make choices I would not make, I pray to respond differently: I start running, and I bring a feast of love.