In today's Gospel we have one of the most famous stories, the prodigal son. What we may overlook in the story is the fact while the son begins the trip home, it is the father who runs out to meet him.
While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
It s worth noting that the son is no where near. The father catches sight of him while he is still a long way off. The father does not wait for the son to come and ask forgiveness. The phrase that often gets translated "embraced him" literally means "he fell on his neck". Thr father is the out of breath runner who falls with his arms around his son's neck.
Forgiveness is not the last step in the process of conversion. The son is still a long way from where he needs to be, literally and figuratively. The forgiveness helps to bring about the conversion.
Each of us should ask ourselves, when have I ever imitated this father. When have I ever been the one who ran out to forgive someone who has hurt me, while they are still a long way off? Can I think of a single name?
If not, it's never too late to start.
Forgiveness is a gift not a prize. It is freely given, it is not earned or won.