Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable:
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them.
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.
So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.
“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’
But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’
And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:7
Imagine being the channel that triggers rejoicing in heaven. The one God uses to turn people back to him. The one whose life points people directly to God and not to self.
It is not that those requiring no repentance are lesser, no, they are actually the ones that should take pride in the rejoicing. If so much value is put into someone that returns to the fold, it means the fold is valued.
If there is no rejoicing, then there is no room for error and we might as well give up, for we are all fallible.
In some moments of highs or lows, we sometimes act in ways that make us stray away from His presence, undermining His love and questioning our faith.
For many, there is no way back – held back by shame, fear, pride, arrogance and sometimes death.
For those that find their way back – brought back by reflection, a friend, a stranger, His grace, and sometimes great loss; they are a testimony to one truth – All that is required to have a complete and perfect life is found in His presence.
All straying diminishes.