“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 (εἰς ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἐλθὼν) 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…” (Lk 15: 11-20)
The prodigal son had first to come “to himself,“ before he could come “home“ to his family. Earlier, he had lost touch with his “self,“ while he was living recklessly. He had lost touch with the self God called him to be, according to his “vocation.“ While he was being tossed to and fro by “other“ calls, not God’s, the prodigal son had no true identity, and lived in some “distant country“ that was not his place.
As we continue to prepare for Lent, the season of renewal, let me not be reluctant to come to my “self,“ and take a look at any motivations or ambitions that may be tossing me to and fro, causing me to “miss the mark“ to which God calls me. And let me not fear coming “home,“ to where I always have a home, and am accepted as my “self,“ warts and all, in God’s embrace. Our Father, Who art in heaven, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Amen!