Today’s reading at Mass, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is the famous parable of the Prodigal Son, undoubtedly one of the most famous and moving passages in the entire Bible. It is a story of a young man who goes abroad, wastes his father’s inheritance “on a life of dissipation” and eventually falls into destitution. Finally, after reaching a low point, he returns to his father humbled and his father receives him with love and forgiveness. The story is the great parable about the essence of Christianity, which is forgiveness. God , our heavenly father, has forgive us for our sins out of his great love for us. We are like the prodigal son in that we are usually very foolish in how we lead our lives and we often end up in situations that are not good for us, especially in the spiritual realm. Often it usually takes some type of crisis, suffering or deprivation to show us our own folly. The parable of the Prodigal Son beautifully expresses this.
Rembrandt, as a great artist of deep religious faith, expresses the moment of when the father greets his penitent son. It is a beautiful work of art. What is wonderful about great art is that it not only pleases us aesthetically, but, as with an artist like Rembrandt, it can aid in spiritual contemplation, and actually help us with faith. Art is truly one of God’s greatest gifts to man, and one of man’s greatest ways of expressing his desire and love for God.