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" - Luke 15:11-18
How many times have we taken our inheritance of grace and love from the Lord and squandered it by our sin, distancing ourselves from the Father in the process? How many times have we awoken amidst the calamity of our spiritual lives caused by our selfish passions and actions realizing our distance from Heaven? Admitting where we are when we are far from the Father takes spiritual strength, and is evidence of the grace of God still being extended to us. God so loves us that even when we are far away from Him spiritually He still reaches out with grace inviting us back. Our longing for reconciliation in these dark times isn't by our own volition. That desire for forgiveness and a new beginning with God is our reaction to God who reaches out to us first. God calls us first and then we answer with contrition, even if imperfectly.
When we are in a state of mortal sin, we can have this notion that we don't deserve to pray. We may have the thought: what's the point of prayer when I'm so deep in sin?
But the slight tug on our heart calling us to prayer is God reaching out to us despite the fissure between. He's expressing desire for communication and union, even if we haven't even expressed outright our sorrow for the disunity. God still wants us, and responding to that grace to pray can be monumental in self forgiveness and an examination of one's conscience as well, which will prepare one's spirit for a reunion with God.
The story of the Prodigal Son shared by Our Lord in the Gospel of Luke shows us deep insight into the love of God for us. It helps us understand our Lord's desire for communion and reconciliation with us when we are away in our sin. Once we respond to the grace extended to us by Our Lord we find ourselves exclaiming:
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. Luke 15: 18-19
We can come to know, by the grace of God, the ways in which we have been offensive towards the Father by our lives, even if not fully contrite and sorrowful yet. We know that our sins are directly contrary to the Lord's nature of Goodness and Love. We grow to understand that our fallen state, while in sin, is a great shortcoming on our part for the Will our God for our lives. But even a minute contriteness, and a stride the length of a penny towards reconciliation with God, results in the Lord reacting in this way:
But while [his son] was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20
When we begin coming back to the Lord, He is already on His way to us (figuratively speaking). Before we are even at His doorstep, before we have even begun or finished commuting to our local parish to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, He has already embraced us. This parable counters what we may fear from our perspective as being too sinful for God; and that our actions are too dismal for us to receive His forgiveness and love. Those words of absolution in the confessional are always so sweet, and wipe away all of our false fears about the Lord and ourselves.
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 fattened 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. - Luke 15:21-24
Jesus tells us that, "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). We should keep this chapter of St. Luke's Gospel in mind when we feel distant from the Lord. We should know that the entire time we are distant, the Lord is desiring and calling us back. Fears within our hearts and minds do not come from who God is, but by the deceptive perceptions we've been fed by the Adversary who wants to keep us from more graces and communion with the Lord. Satan will wish to convince you that you'll lose dignity and your image through a humbling confession. But in the confessional, the only thing you have to lose is your sins.
Let us be like the Prodigal Son with confidence in the Father's love for us, trust in His mercy which He has proven repeatedly. No matter is too grave, no sin too dismal for the Love of the Father to embrace us, welcome us home, and make merry with us in our refreshed state of grace after reconciliation.