20 And rising up he came to his father. . . .
Chrysostom: Let us do likewise, and not be wearied with the length of the way, for if we are willing, the return will become swift and easy, provided that we desert sin, which led us out from our father’s house. But the father pities those who return.
20 . . . And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son.
Chrysostom: The father perceiving his penitence did not wait to receive the words of his confession, but anticipates his supplication, and had compassion on him.
We through the hindrance of our sins cannot by our own virtue reach to God. . . . God is able to come to the weak.
Gregory of Nyssa: His meditating confession so won his father to him, that he went out to meet him.
Ambrose: He runs then to meet thee, because He hears thee within meditating the secrets of thy heart, and when thou wert yet afar off, He runs lest any one should stop Him. He embraces also, (for in the running there is foreknowledge, in the embrace mercy,) and as if by a certain impulse of paternal affection, falls upon thy neck, that he may raise up him that is cast down, and bring back again to heaven him that was loaded with sins and bent down to the earth. I had rather then be a son than a sheep. For the sheep is found by the shepherd, the son is honored by the father.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).