For the younger son to request to have his share of the estate that would belong to him while his father is still alive, is an abnormal request. Surprisingly, that the father satisfied his son's request is a most unusual response. Granting the son's request, the son whom he loved dearly, would mean the family's separation was unavoidable, and yet he granted it. The father's fear came to reality when the son received his share. He quickly packed his belongings, and moved to a distant country. The word 'distant' implies several things, and the phrase 'he squandered his money on a life of debauchery' explains all this.
First, it is a 'distant' relationship between the father and his son. A 'distant' relationship can't be a warm one, but cold and heartbroken. His father's heart was heavy; while the son was happy, because he longed to 'distance' himself from the family to pursue his own dreams. It soon became a reality.
Second, 'distance' means to divorce himself from his former way of life. A new life will replace the old one; the traditional family values, life style, moral teaching and good behaviour would be replaced by a pagan's life style.
Third, a 'distant' country would mean the son now lived at the pagans' territory, where people worshipped money. A human's life was measured by worldly possessions. Without money, a human's life was little higher than that of animals. That the son was willing to eat the pigs' food but he was not allowed to do, would clarify this point.
Fourth, there is another 'distance', and that is the 'distance' from Yahweh their God. It is the faith his family hold dearly and had kept from childhood. Debauchery means to depart and 'distance' oneself from the loving God. It is a self-indulgent, immoral behaviour. It is a wilful consuming life style.
When one looks at suffering and humiliation in a negative way, it will not lead to repentance but it leads a blame game. People project their anger on others or onto God, blaming God for their suffering and feeling bitter about it. An honest reflection helps a person to look deep into one own heart and that leads to repentance. Through reflection about his wilful life, the young man realized, that he was living in a state of sin, and it is a big waste. It is a waste of time. It damages his wellbeing. It is a waste of his talents and it is a disgrace to his father's love for him. Through reflection he realized that his father's love for him is stronger than his sin. His father's kindness was extended to everyone, including his servants. With such belief he went home to his father, begging for acceptance. He believed that he had sinned against both his father and heaven. With such deep reflection he believed that his sin was so great that he had lost his sonship status, but hoped he might be treated as a paid servant. His father saw him coming home from afar. He rushed out to embrace him with great joy. He was overjoyed because he believed that his son was lost but now was found; he was dead but now alive, and that was the reason for having a great feast to celebrate. Honest reflection leads to repentance and repentance is the door to enter God's eternal family.