Today's gospel reading of Luke 15:1-32, the parable of the prodigal son, inspired me to share a beautiful reflection I've come to treasure over the past few years.
The story is told that centuries ago, a certain missionary journeyed to far distant country where he worked tirelessly to share the saving Gospel message with the people there. This life of evangelization eventually brought him into the company of a local artist in that land, a man renowned for his talent and artistic mastery.
The artist was gradually convinced of the truth of this missionary's message, and he loved the parable of the father and his two sons more than any other parable Jesus had told. He would ask the missionary to tell him the tale again and again, and each time he heard it, he was filled with peace and deepest joy.
One day, the artist received a commission to paint a depiction of this beloved parable. He joyfully accepted the opportunity and set to work right away. After toiling for some time, he revealed his work to the benefactor who was greatly pleased. So too, at the artist's request the missionary was present for the unveiling. The work was truly a masterpiece, and the benefactor and missionary alike raved about the artist's feat.
Suddenly, the two observers paused. Somewhat mystified, the benefactor asked the artist why the father's shoes were different colors. The missionary had noticed this as well on closer examination. How could this brilliant and talented man have missed such an important detail?
But the artist merely smiled with a triumphant grin. It was not an accident or an oversight at all. He had very deliberately placed this detail right at the heart of the painting. You see, he explained, the father was so exuberant with the joy of seeing his lost son returning home that he threw on two shoes and ran with abandon to meet him.
That's what God's love is like, explained the artist.
And that's why God's shoes don't match!