Luke 15:11-29 NRSV
11 Then Jesus[a] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with[b] the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.
How many times have we heard or read the story of The Prodigal Son? Yet one can always extract another gem or two when contemplating this parable. Notice that there were two sons–yet how different they were. Isn’t that true of so many families? Each individual is exposed to different people, different situations and different places in life. Many such events are traumatic and life-altering for the one who experiences them. Perhaps this was the case with these two brothers. Something happened to the younger son that caused him to make a break with his family. Perhaps he simply wanted to get away—to try to find happiness in another location. Perchance someone there could make him happy. Little did he realize that wherever he went, he would not only take himself but all his problems with him. Happiness is something one must find for one’s self. No one else can give it to you. Happiness is not handed to us on a silver platter. If you can’t find it, then you can’t blame anyone else.
Jesus’ reason for telling this story was not about the sons but about the father—with his arms opened wide with love and forgiveness. In this life, for this son, it was about the resurrection of their relationship in this life and in the life to come. Imagine the tremendous joy he experienced to see, in the distance, this son whom he perhaps thought he’d never see again—yet there he was!
The story does not tell us how long the son was gone from home. However, as a parent I know that not a day passed that he did not grieve over the disappearance of this child of his. Years ago, I lost a child from a congenital heart defect, so I know the pain this father experienced. Not a day goes by when I think of her, and miss her! How jubilantly I would run down the road if I were to see her in the distance.
What is reassuring is that I can see her in the distance. That’s what the Resurrection is all about! We would do well to remember some of the last words of Jesus, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus was relating to us that there will be a resurrection for each of us and that our heavenly Father will welcome us with open arms—with a heart full of love and forgiveness. We can truthfully expect to see our loved ones again and to experience our Father joyfully welcoming us Home!
Prayer: Father, we thank you for your compassionate and forgiving heart. We thank Jesus for all he taught us about you. Just like the father of the Prodigal Son, we can help restore all our relationships so we may be children of yours who give you delight. How wonderful it is to contemplate that one day we shall be that child of yours, reunited with you and all our loved ones. The feast that you have ready for us, when we return, is more than we can comprehend. In the meantime, help us during all our journeys so we may live a life that gives glory to you, Lord. May we feed and clothe the hungry, visit those in prison and help heal those who are sick. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen