Read: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
The parable of the prodigal son may be a familiar one to you. Son number 2 comes of age and asks his father for his inheritance, heads off and lives the high life of parties and frivolity. But then the money dries up, he works and even eats in the squalor of the pigsty and decides to take the emotionally difficult journey back to his father to see if his father might allow him to work for him – not as a son, but a servant.
On seeing his son on the way home, the father runs to meet him, embraces him and throws a huge party to celebrate his return. Son number 1 isn’t happy though, he feels like his brother is being rewarded for deserting them. Son 1 has done everything right, perhaps even borne extra responsibltiy as a result of his brother leaving the family firm.
Th father gets why Son 1 feels this way – but also challenges him. Everything I have s yours, he says, but this is not about the money, it’s about my love for you both. Your brother was lost, we thought he was dead – but he is alive and found.
In the money driven economy of the western world, it can be so easy for earthly riches and our societal and institutional responsibilities to become the focus of our living, activity and even our whole being. But this parable reminds us that what really matters to God is not our earthly activity, but our willingness to come to God, who is a perfect and loving parent, and find welcome and love beyond measure.
Follow Up: Luke 15 tells of 3 ‘lost’ parables – the lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son. We often look at each separately, but there can be value in looking at the whole chapter together too. What threads and themes do you notice?
Today’s reflection is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.