I know I’m supposed to feel awe at the father’s unconditional love in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and most of the time I do. But sometimes I feel more like the second son: angry that people who don’t “deserve it” might be the recipient of God’s forgiveness.
When I think about people who have mistreated me, or are mean to me, I think, "I hope they have to pay!" But my conflicted response points out an important part of this story: God’s love is not like our own. We can try to understand it by looking at, say, a mother’s love for her child—unconditional. But God’s love goes even farther than that. It’s prodigal—in the sense of being lavish, over the top, even wasteful.
And that’s a good thing, because all of us are in need of that forgiving love at different points in our life. So the parable could just as easily be called the Prodigal Father. Or the Prodigal God.