O happy the humility of those who repent; O blessed the hope of those who confess. How mighty you are with the Almighty; how easily you conquer the unconquerable; how quickly you turn the dreadful judge into a devoted father. We have heard today to our great edification of the prodigal son’s sorrowful journey, tearful repentance and glorious reception. He was so gravely guilty and had not yet confessed but only planned to; had not yet made satisfaction but only bent his mind to it. Yet by merely intending to humble himself he immediately obtained a pardon which others seek for so long a time with such great desire, beg for with such tears, strive for with such diligence. The thief on the cross was absolved by a simple confession, the prodigal by only the will to confess.
“I said,” Scripture says, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord; and you did forgive the guilt of my sin.” Everywhere mercy precedes. It had preceded the will to confess by inspiring it; it preceded also the words of confession by forgiving what was to be confessed. “When he was still far off,” we read, “his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and running to meet him fell upon his neck and kissed him.” These words seem to suggest that the father was even more anxious to pardon his son than the son was to be pardoned. He hastened to absolve the guilty one from what was tormenting his conscience, as if the merciful father suffered more in his compassion for his miserable son than the son did in his own miseries. We do not mean to attribute human feelings to the unchangeable nature of God; we intend rather that our affection should be softened and moved to love that supreme goodness by learning from comparison with human feelings that he loves us more than we love him.
Guerric of Igny, Liturgical Sermons I, Sermon for the Saturday of the Second Week of Lent, v. 1 (CF 8, pp 140f.)