And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
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Cornelius a Lapide
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him. Before he had given any expression to his penitence, his father prevented him.
See here God"s wonderful loving-kindness towards penitent sinners. "He is wont," says Titus , "in His mercy and pity to anticipate the repentance of men;" and, adds S. Gregory of Nyssa, "when he resolved to repent, his father was reconciled to him."
And had compassion, ÎµÌ‰ÏƒÏ€Î»Î±Î³Ï‡Î½Î¯ÏƒÎ¸Î·, was moved with pity at the sight of his misery.
And ran. In excess of joy, says Euthymius, he waited not for him to draw nigh, but went to meet him, running and thereby showing the greatness of his love.
And fell on his neck, and kissed him. "To fall on his neck," says S. Augustine, "is to lower to his embrace the arm of God, which is Christ; to give the kiss is to comfort by the word of God"s grace unto the hope of pardon of sin." But S. Chrysostom says, "The mouth is kissed as that from which the heartfelt confession of the penitent proceeded."
The embrace and the kiss are here set forth as the tokens of pardon and reconciliation, and of especial love and goodwill, as well as of the exultation and joy with which God and His angels regard a sinner that repenteth.