Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Story of the Wayward Son Has Daily Implications

It seems almost daily I am impressed with the message of this story.  I've written about it before, but this time is different. See this story from 2012.

Recently I offended someone I dearly love.  They snapped back in response, and then I was offended by what they said to me.  This is life, and humanness at its finest!

My paraphrased version the story in Luke 15 is about a young man who wasted his inheritance on extravagant living, then came home with nothing.  He was judged harshly by his brother, but forgiven and loved by his Dad.  It raises the question to me of who was more at fault, the wasteful or the judgmental brother.  Implicitly the story points us to the example we need to follow is that of the father.  All of us will at some time do foolish things, and we will also judge those who do the same.   Sometimes the only consequence comes to the ‘lawbreaker’, but those who cannot mentally or emotionally place themselves in the other’s position, risk self-righteousness which is unjustified in any case from an eternal perspective. Who am I to cast the first stone?  The one we should be trying to emulate is the father in this story; loving and forgiving those who err in spite of their actions.  That is what the message Christ bids us to follow. (see image credit below)

In the dictionary, the word prodigal is characterized by profuse spending, so much so that it could be described as wasteful.  In this story all three characters go to prodigal extremes in their behaviors.  Which person best describes your actions and behavior lately?

Read this story again from the point of view of a person you have offended or been offended by…

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother, from Luke 15:11-32 (NRSV)

11. Then Jesus 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 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.’ 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. 30. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes; you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31. Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Image credit - this image is by the Japanese artist Soichi Watanabe, titled “The Prodigal Son Returns which was on display at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, 2009.  More on this artist.
The photo originally on this post was removed due to copyright infringement.  Mr. Watanabe will be paid a fee prior to me posting it again.  In the meantime, please see the link above.

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