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Friends, our Gospel today is Jesus’ best-known parable, and perhaps the greatest story ever told. It tells us practically everything we need to know about our relationship to God, if we but attend to the details carefully.

The younger son asks for his share of the estate and quickly squanders it in a faraway land—and so it always goes. We are the children of God; we have been given life, being, everything by him; we exist through him at every moment. What is represented here so vividly is the moment of sin, which means rupture or division.

So he was forced to hire himself out so as to become a feeder of pigs. And no one gave him anything. Coming to his senses at last, he decides to break away and return to his father.

The father sees him from a long way off, and then, throwing respectability to the wind, he comes running out to meet him. The Bible is not the story of our quest for God, but of God’s passionate, relentless quest for us. He put a ring on his son’s finger—the ring of marriage, symbolizing the reestablishment of a right relationship between us and God.