But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him….22But 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. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20b, 22-23)
Here we see the whole and sum of the parable. We see that God does want us to come back, and he earnestly awaits our return, and celebrates when we do. This is the most obvious part of the parable, and it causes great joy to all of us who have strayed, and gone our own way. But here we also see the sum of the whole Christian life.
God our Father in heaven truly does see us a far way off…Far off before time. He runs by sending his Son too us. But he sends his Son in means. In Baptism we receive the best robe. That white robe of righteousness, which is Christ. In this we are given the signat ring of sonship.
In this sonship we are given his teaching, which teaches us to walk on the proper path. This path continually leads us, from our wayward ways, to the altar where we receive that true fattened calf. The one who died for us, and we receive him in hand and mouth. It is the great feast where angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven attends. Till one day we too may celebrate at the feast which has no end. All these wonderful gifts are poured upon us, who were dead, but are now alive through them.