The Cycle of the Prodigal Son

A father works hard, sweats and deprives himself so that his children will not lack anything, so that they will not have to work, or sweat or deprive themselves like he did. And in fact, his children ended up not having to work so hard, not sweating so much, not having to deprive themselves, and you know what happens? They don’t value what they have and drag their inheritance through the mud. They get involved with bad friends, spend money on addictions, and invest in everything except what they really need. The more they have, the less satisfied they are. This is the cycle that modern society finds itself in. The cycle of the prodigal son.

When the prodigal son asked his father for his part of the inheritance, he did not bother to continue what his father had begun, what he had achieved with so much hard work – his farm. The entire family suffered as a result. His father had to sell part of the farm and lose a piece of what was supporting them. Ungrateful is a nice way of describing that son. But he couldn’t care less. The only thing he cared about was “being happy.”

In their search for “happiness” people don’t realize how ungrateful, unjust, selfish and egocentric they are, most of all to their families. When they turn their backs on those who love them, they turn towards those who couldn’t care less about them, but for some strange reason, they are drawn to them. This is what the prodigal son did. He “bit the hand that fed him” and ran away into the arms of the world, that had never promised him anything, but illusion. And so, he was quickly embraced when he had something to give and was rejected just as quickly when he had nothing left.

That’s when the prodigal son remembered his father, a man who had given to him not because he would receive something in return, but because of who he was, the son he loved. Deep down he knew that he had no right to return to his father’s house because he had been an ungrateful son. In addition to wounding the entire family, he had disappeared and done everything he had been taught not to do. Even worse, he had dragged his and his family’s reputation through the mud. And at this point, when the ungrateful son was able to come up with a million reasons never to bother his father ever again, he used reason and said, “I’ll go back as my father’s servant.”

As a servant, the prodigal son would have to humble himself before the entire family and his father’s servants. Many who are in the place of the prodigal son do not want to pay this price, in order to return to God. They say that they’re embarrassed about what people will say, but deep down they aren’t embarrassed about what they’ve done to the Father. They don’t realize that they humiliated Him. Now it’s their turn to humble themselves before Him.

The humility of the prodigal son did not only take him back to his father’s house, it led him to forgiveness, and amazingly, to honor! His father was so happy to see him, that he insisted on throwing a party to celebrate his return. He returned as a servant and was received as a son.

But his brother did not receive him in the same manner. Not only did he complain about his return, he complained about how his father had received him with such enthusiasm. But the father was not influenced by the reaction of his son. Instead he rebuked him in love.

When you return to God as a servant, he will receive you as a son. And if someone criticizes you for this, let God take care of them.

In faith.

Collaboration: Cristiane Cardoso

Bishop Edir Macedo