not to be forgiven, for this has already
been accomplished. Ask,
rather, to learn how to forgive, and to
restore what always was to your unforgiving
parable of the prodigal son offers a full and
rich metaphor for our journey of healing within
the dream of separation. Listen to the story
of the prodigal son and learn what God's treasure
is and yours:
son of a loving father left his home and thought
he had squandered everything for nothing of any
value, although he had not understood its worthlessness
at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father,
because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he
came home the father welcomed him with joy, because
the son himself was his father's treasure. He
wanted nothing else."
this parable, Jesus teaches us clearly that
there is no condemnation in God. The prodigal
left home and wandered deep into the far country
of illusion and despair.
morning, the story says, he awoke and "came
to himself." He remembered that he had
a home and a kind and loving father. He decided
to go home. The
prodigal set out on his journey home believing
that he had sinned against his father and that
he was no longer worthy to be called his father's
son. Yet when his father heard that he was coming,
he sent an escort to meet him and make the journey
of return with him. When the prodigal came before
him, the father greeted him with unreserved
welcome, joy, feasting, and celebration. In
effect, the father said to his son,
are mistaken in how you see yourself. You are
still my son, my heart's treasure, whom I love
and in whom I delight." --ACIM
then did the prodigal come to understand that
nothing had changed, nothing had been lost,
nothing had destroyed his identity or his father's
teaching of the parable does not end, however,
with the prodigal's return. There was a second
son, who had appeared to be "good"
and to do everything his father wanted. This
son became jealous and angry over his father's
celebration of his brother's return and complained
bitterly that his father had never held such
a feast for him. He would have denied his brother
welcome, pointing out his brother's "sins"
and contrasting them with his own "righteousness."
as the father did not condemn the prodigal for
his wanderings, neither did he become angry
with his second son's bitterness and jealousy.
He simply reminded this son, gently and lovingly,
that all his, the father's, wealth was also
his—and always had been. It
was freely his for the accepting, just as it
was being freely given his brother.
second son's belief that his father's favor
and grace had to be earned shows that
he did not really know his father's
loving nature. That lack of understanding and
his self-righteous stance had separated him
from his father just as much as the prodigal's
misguided wanderings had done. He too had denied
himself the experience of his father's limitless
abundance and love.
of the past, the second son's unforgiveness
of his brother was all that kept him from fully
sharing in the feast now. The unforgiveness
in our minds is all that is keeping us from
awakening and sharing in the overflowing richness
is not God's forgiveness that we need, for as
this story makes clear, our Father has not condemned
us. It is our own forgiveness that is needed,
for we have banished ourselves from the awareness
and experience of His Love. We receive the gifts
of forgiveness as we are willing to extend forgiveness
to our brother.
challenge of our healing journey is twofold—for
we are like both the prodigal son and
the self-righteous son in this parable.
the prodigal, we need to recognize that we
cannot find fulfillment, happiness, safety,
or peace in the ego's world, in all the misdirected
ways and places we've sought for them. We
can find our treasure only by remembering
who we are, by coming home. This is our deepest
longing, our true heart's desire. Even in
the midst of lostness and pain, for a moment
we can "come to ourselves."We can
glimpse a memory, however vague, of a home
we dearly loved. We can hear it call softly
to us in the longing of our heart, and we
can decide to go home. In the holy instant
of that decision, our journey has begun. Then,
like the second son, we must learn that whenever
we would deny a brother his rightful place
as God's Son, we also deny our own.
by our willingness to recognize and celebrate
who he is in truth—no matter how far
he may seem to have strayed, no matter what
he seems to have done—can we know our
own Identity as well. We
can share in the blessing that is ours only
as one. In this way our dream is transformed.
In this way we are made ready for awakening.
softly of your sinless brother, who unites with
you in holy innocence. And from this dream the
Lord of Heaven will Himself awaken His beloved
Berke The core practices
of A Course in Miracles are forgiveness and
listening to the Holy Spirit, our inner teacher,
the voice for God within us.