I LOVE YOU ❤️

( A journey in the hearts of the prodigal son and his brother in relation to their father’s heart)

On the third Sunday of the great lent, the church recites the prodigal son gospel.
This beautiful story depicted by St. Luke in his gospel chapter 15 records to us Jesus telling us a story of a loving father and his two sons’ reactions towards his love. When you first read the story it draws you to that younger son who is called the “prodigal” son for his horrible act of taking his share of the father’s goods and leaves him devastated by this unloving action and wasting his possessions by prodigal living while his father waits for his return every single day and night. But when you read carefully you end up questioning who is the real prodigal son! ?
Is it that son who was attracted back by the love of the father or is it the other son who has been always living with the father and never left him but yet was never attracted to his love?!
See, mid story, the matters turn upside down. The younger son ends up sensing the love of his father And “came back to himself”. He re evaluated his status and “said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
It seems to us here that this young man somehow at this point recognized the heart of his father whispering in his ears: son
“I LOVE YOU ❤️”
At a split second everything was changed and we know the rest of the story:
“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.”
The story then talks about the other son who never left and always served the father but yet it seems that he never felt the love of the father. He got jealous of his brother and said to the 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.’”
The scholars say that when he said Lo, these many years I have been serving you; in the original language it translates to “ I have been enslaved to you “
I imagine the heart of the loving father this time must have been broken even more. He said to him: “ ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.”
‭‭As if he whispers to him the same words again son
“ I LOVE YOU ❤️ “
Unfortunately this son did not feel the words and was not drawn to his father’s love So he stayed outside.
That’s why in the gospel of John chapter 6:44 Jesus says “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
‭‭So, I wonder who is the real prodigal son and why?!
It seems to me that it’s not a matter of making mistakes because we all do them but it’s a matter of us not recognizing the love of our Heavenly Father and hearing His whispers:
“I LOVE YOU ❤️”
That determines the prodigal son.

Fr Luke Istafanous