When Pope Francis announced that the church would be celebrating a year of mercy, he mentioned that the parable of the prodigal son is one of the stories included in the Gospel of Luke, the "Evangelist of Mercy," that help us understand the nature of God the Father. The God of love and compassion wants to lavishly bestow an extravagant amount of mercy and pardon on all His children, especially those who have lost their way. In this work, Father Len Fecko shifts the emphasis away from the younger son and focuses on the behavior of the father. Although the parable is often used as a starting point to talk about conversion, the intent and purpose of the younger son is not what matters. It is the response of the father that provides an important lesson for us. He is the character who was disrespected by his son and made to look like a fool, yet he is the one who opens our minds to a new way of understanding the nature of God the Father.
Fr. Len sets the stage for his analysis of the parable by considering the historical and cultural setting in which Jesus told the story as well as other aspects of biblical interpretation that are important to consider in order to understand the full meaning of the story. He concludes his reflection by telling three personal stories that provide a deeper understanding of nature of the father and what a true conversion experience might look like.