22 And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: 24 Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Theophylact: By the servants (or angels) you may understand administering spirits, or priests who by baptism and the word of teaching clothe the soul with Christ Himself. For as many of us as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ.
Augustine: The best robe is the dignity which Adam lost; the servants who bring it are the preachers of reconciliation.
Ambrose: The ring is the seal of our unfeigned faith, and the impression of truth.
Augustine: Or the ring on the hand is a pledge of the Holy Spirit.
Chrysostom: Or he orders the ring to be given, which is the symbol of the seal of salvation, or rather the badge of betrothment, and pledge of the nuptials with which Christ espouses His Church.
Augustine: The shoes on the feet are the preparation for preaching the Gospel, in order not to touch earthly things.
Ambrose: The Gentiles indeed when they have believed are made alive again by grace. But he who has fallen recovers by repentance.
Augustine: Those banquets are now celebrated, the Church being enlarged and extended throughout the whole world. For that calf in our Lord’s body and blood is both offered up to the Father, and feeds the whole house.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).