In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus directs the story to both sinners and Pharisees, those who have broken the law and those who are scrupulous in keeping the law, condemning both the self-centeredness of the younger brother and the moralistic life of the older brother.
Jesus tells us that both paths are wrong. Both were using the father for their own self-centered goals–one through neglecting the commandments and abusing the father’s generosity, and the other by appealing to the rules to justify his conduct and not going beyond that to a loving and merciful life.
Jesus gives us a deeper concept of sin than we usually have. Sin is not just the breaking of rules, but also keeping them solely to assure you have a ticket to heaven. Nothing more is needed. God owes you, and you become closed to the movement of the spirit in your life.
The amazing message of this parable to us is that everyone in some way has sinned; everyone is loved; everyone is called to change how they look at things; and everyone is called to the feast. What better time than Lent to reflect on this wonderful message?
“Your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” (Luke 15:32)