When the son wandered off in rebellion, he didn’t cease being a son. He just wasn’t aware of it anymore. He falsely assumed that because of his guilt he was unworthy of a union with his father.
Jesus challenged every preconceived notion his audience had about God as quick to judge, and instead presented the divine father as infinitely (and scandalously) loving, tolerant, compassionate, and accepting.
Jesus was masterful at telling stories that conveyed a deeper meaning. They were called parables because they communicated in the language of metaphors that people related to. One such parable is about the relationship between a father and his two sons.
Fear is separation from what is present. Fear essentially refuses to live in union with what is. Love experiences life because it’s one with life. Fear avoids life because it cannot be at peace with it.
I’m reminded of a shopping center near my home in San Diego. (Stay with me here through the strangeness of this story. There’s a point here. I promise.) Walking through the mall, I observed everything around me, including the beauty and charm of the people all around me. At the food court, I exchanged pleasantries with a cashier as I paid for my lunch.
One way to better understand love is by contrasting it with fear. While love is the equivalent of one or unity, fear is the equivalent of two, or separation. Fear originates in the mind as thoughts that are not cognizant of the union we share. It’s a toxic energy, or perhaps even more succinctly, an emotional pain you experience when you are unaware of unconditional love.