The Episode Between the Father and the Older Son Who Stayed at Home.
This is a post that continues the thought in an earlier post today about our Sunday gospel focusing on the parable of the Prodigal Son. At this point, the younger son has returned home from his misadventures and prodigal lifestyle and has been welcomed by the father. Continue reading
The Beginning of the Return
This coming weekend is the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we started our look into the the longer, more detailed parable of the Prodigal Son.
17 Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. The conversion begins in the muck and mud of the pigpen. It is there that he “came to himself.” While there is ambiguity in the moment, the trajectory of the story points to the moment of coming to point of desire to return home – the place where he has a place to be whom God calls him to be. The moment shows the human capacity to renounce foolishness, to begin anew to reclaim one’s heritage and potential. Calamity finally brings him to his senses. He understands that he has no claim on his father and no right to be called son. But if not a son, then he will return to his home as a hired servant. He carefully rehearses his speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”
He is not seeking to reclaim what he has renounced. Yet he knows that he, in any condition or circumstance, returns to the Father and his father. It is a classic penitential moment: address, confession, contrition, and a petition of healing. After “coming to himself,” he rises and returns to his father. At this point in the narrative the focus shifts to his father Continue reading
The Departure of the Younger Son. This is a post that continues the thought in an earlier post today about our Sunday gospel specifically considering the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Earlier today we began our look into the details of the parable of the Prodigal Son. This post continues our look. The parable begins with the younger son asking for what he considers his share of the inheritance – something that is for the father to decide. In the asking, the son communicates that he does not view the inheritance as a gift given because of his father’s good graces; rather he sees it as his due. Continue reading
This coming weekend is the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we consider the parable of the Lost Coin in the context of the recurring Lucan theme of “Celebrating the Lost and Now Found.” Today and tomorrow we will consider the longer, more detailed parable of the Prodigal Son. Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C: the Prodigal Son. The parable offers that the father has extended unconditional forgiveness to both sons prior to their repentance. What then does this say about the fuller meaning of repentance?
The parable of the Lost Sheep ends with: “I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” The parable of the Lost Coin ends with: “In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Taken at face value, the idea of a sheep repenting is only slightly less absurd than the idea of a coin repenting. Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C: the Prodigal Son. The story would be complete as it stands with the return of the prodigal son and the father’s open-armed acceptance. But another story interlocks with this: the story of the elder son who has not appeared in the story. The father has responded to the prodigal son’s return with compassion. How will the elder brother respond?
Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. (vv. 24-26)
In anger, the elder son refuses to join in the celebration, thus physically distancing himself from his family and his own role as elder son in a celebration of this kind. “At such a banquet the older son has a special semi-official responsibility. He is expected to move among the guests, offering compliments, making sure everyone has enough to eat, ordering the servants around and, in general, becoming a sort of major-domo of the feast. [Baily, 294] Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C: the Prodigal Son. The parable begins with the younger son asking for what he considers his share of the inheritance – something that is for the father to decide. In the asking, the son communicates that he does not view the inheritance as a gift given because of his father’s good graces; rather he sees it as his due.
Kenneth Bailey, a NT scholar who lived for years in the Middle East, asked many people in the Near East cultures how one is to understand the younger son’s request. The answer is consistent and harsh: the son would rather have his father dead so as to gain the inheritance. In an honor/shame society it would be appropriate to ask, “What father having been asked by a son to give him inheritance…” No father would do such a thing. Again the Lucan answer is not the answer of the society. The father grants the request. Where the younger son asks for “the share of your estate (ousia) that should come to me.” Luke tells us that the father “divided between them his property.” Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C: the Prodigal Son. The parable, the longest in the Gospels, consists of three main parts: (1) the departure of the younger son to a distant land where he squanders his inheritance (vv.11-19), (2) the homecoming of the son and welcome by his father (vv.20-24), and (3) the episode between the father and the older son who stayed at home (vv.25-32). How this parable differs from the two preceding it is that what is lost is a human person – one who has existing human relationships with his father and his brother – and whose relationship gets tangled up in the oldest of family squabbles: inheritance. Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C. The gospel is one of most familiar of all parables: the Prodigal Son, part of a trilogy of parables thematically joined with joy over the recovery of what was lost. All three parables of Luke 15 (the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son) point to the idea of the return of one that was lost. To the simple structure of lost/found/joy, in the Prodigal Son parable, there is further development of the theme of God’s love and the contrast of the older brother’s hostility. Luke uses this motif to teach a newer, more full meaning of repentance. Continue reading
“A man had two sons …” (Luke 15:11) – such is the beginning of the beloved and well-known Parable of the Prodigal Son. But you know Scripture doesn’t come with titles for such things. That’s just what the parable has always been called. But we could call it something else. The Parable of the Waiting Father? Or perhaps the Parable of the Petulant Older Brother? I guess it all depends on what draws your interest and attention. What about you? Where are your thoughts drawn: to the younger son’s selfish greed, the older son’s arrogant fury, or perhaps the patient father’s extravagant love? Continue reading