These are some beautiful thoughts about the parable of the prodigal son from Peter Chrysologos, Bishop of Ravenna [450 AD]. Notice how there is no hint of shame in the way the father embraces his wayward son.
“I will break away and return to my father.” What is the basis for such hope, such assurance, and such confidence on his part? The very fact that it is his father to whom he will return. “I have forfeited my sonship, ” he tells himself, “but he has not forfeited his fatherhood.” There is no need for a stranger to intercede with a father: it is the father’s own affection which intervenes and supplicates in the depths of his heart.
And the father, on sighting his son, immediately covers over his sin. He prefers his role and father to his role as judge. At once he transforms the sentence into pardon, for he desires his son’s return, not his ruin. He “threw his arms around him and kissed him.” This is how the father judges and corrects: he gives a kiss in place of a beating.
The power of love takes no account of sin; that is why the father pardons his child’s guilt with a kiss, and covers it over with an embrace. The father does not reveal his child’s sin, neither does he stigmatize his son; he nurses his wounds in such a way that they leave no scar or dishonor whatsoever.Peter Chysologos, Sermons 2-3: PL 52, 188-189, 192, quoted in Wright, J. Robert, Readings For the Daily Office From the Early Church, p. 375-376.