The True Prodigal
In his ‘Return of the Prodigal’ Henri Nouwen writes:
‘Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sakes. He left the house of his heavenly Father, came to a foreign land, gave away all that he had, and returned through the cross to his Father’s home. All this he did, not as a rebellious son, but as an obedient son, sent out to bring home all the lost children of God.’
‘For it was fitting that he, for whom all things exist, in bringing many son to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. … That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “Behold I and the children God has given me”’ (Hebrews 2:10-13).
Then Nouwen quotes Frere Pierre Marie:
‘He, who is born not from human stock or human desire or human will, but from God himself, one day took to himself everything…and left with his inheritance…for a far country…and emptied himself. His own people did not accept him. Like a root in arid soil he grew up [amongst] us, he was despised, the lowest of men, before whom one covers his face. Very soon, he came to know exile, hostility, loneliness…
 After giving away everything in a life of bounty;
 after losing himself among the lost children of the house of Israel, spending his time with the sick (and not the well-to-do), with the sinners (and not the just), and even with prostitutes to whom he promised entrance into the kingdom of his Father;
 after being treated as a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinner, as a Samaritan, as one possessed, as a blasphemer;
 after offering everything, even his body and his blood;
 after feeling in himself deep sadness, anguish, and a troubled soul;
 after going to the bottom of despair, with which he voluntarily dressed himself;
 as being abandoned by God far away from the Source of living water, he cried out from the cross on which he was nailed, “I am thirsty”;
 he was laid to rest in the dust and the shadow of death.
‘He descended to the depths of hell, burdened with the crimes of us all; he bore our sins, our sorrows he carried.
‘From there, on the third day, he rose. Standing straight, he cried out: “Yes, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” And he re-ascended to heaven
‘There, the Father, looking at his Son and all his children, since his Son had become all in all, the Father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; let us eat and celebrate! Because my children were dead and have returned to life, were lost and have been found! My prodigal son has brought them all back.” They all began to have a feast dressed in their long robes, washed white in the blood of the Lamb.’