The parable of the prodigal son

There are those among us who would break the compass with the hammer, but this Pope knows that what the world needs from us and our faith is a compass, not a hammer. He decides to venture home to save himself by striking a deal with his father: He plans to negotiate a plea deal but they are seldom just. I know all about the lure of plea deals.

The parable of the prodigal son

The return of the Prodigal Son is a time of great rejoicing, for the son who was once lost is now found.

This parable is probably one of the most cited and most studied in all of Scripture and it fits well with this Year of Mercy.

It is certainly apt to contemplate the abundant mercy the father shows his wayward son. But have you ever wondered why Jesus included the character of the older brother? The scenario of the merciful father and the repentant son effectively models our relationship with God the Father. We are sinners; yet God welcomes us with open arms when we see the error of our ways and humbly ask His forgiveness for our sins.

The parable of the prodigal son

What does Christ want us to learn from this third character of the parable? Perhaps because I am an oldest child, I have always felt a kinship with this older brother who strode the straight and narrow path and always worked to please his father. As any oldest child will tell you, Mom and Dad are never as hard on the youngest as they were on the oldest.

Where are the consequences? Where is the justice? Yet I doubt Jesus was trying to highlight the penalties of being the first-born. The simple lesson is that virtuous living kept the older son close to the father and that itself was a reward.

Often the person who consistently seeks to be close to God through prayer, regular Mass attendance and simple love of neighbor remains anonymous, while the person who undergoes a radical conversion is treated like a celebrity.

Still, if you ask the convert, he rues the time he spent in sin and error and would gladly forego the celebration if he could recover the time he lost. But he is consumed by anger when he sees his sibling being welcomed with love instead of being condemned.

Yet this same pride blinds him to the hardness of his own heart. Christ never shunned the sinner. He dined with them. He expects the same of us.

When he taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them to forgive those who sin against them just as they ask the Father to forgive their own sins.

But forgiveness is hard. It requires both grace and humility. We glibly declare that we need to love the sinner and hate the sin but when the sinner repents and asks for our forgiveness we all too often point our fingers in judgment and demand retribution.

When we withhold mercy, we sin against our Heavenly Father, just as the older brother sinned against his own father when he refused to forgive his brother.

The parable of the prodigal son

If we truly believe that no one is beyond redemption, then who are we to refuse our brother the opportunity for reconciliation? Refusing to Enter the Banquet Returning to the parable, Jesus shows us what happens to those who refuse to forgive.

The image of a banquet is often used as a metaphor for Heaven. When we see the older brother he is outside the banquet. The father reaches out to him and pleads for him to enter and join the celebration. While it may be more comfortable to see ourselves as the older brother, paragons of virtue able to discern the sins of those around us, it is important to remember that the older brother was virtuous only in the eyes of the world.

His soul was actually severely wounded by pride leaving him bitter and unhappy.

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It was the younger brother who found true virtue and holiness because he humbled himself before his father, admitted his sins and pleaded for forgiveness. It also serves as a dire warning of the grave consequences for refusing to extend our own meager mercy to our neighbor.

We can exclude ourselves from the banquet of Heaven with our refusal to forgive.Luke With thanks to page sponsor Trinity Lutheran Church, Bowmanstown, PA. Reading the Text: NRSV (with link to Anglicized NRSV) at Oremus Bible Browser. History and Etymology for prodigal son.

after the Prodigal Son of the Biblical parable (Luke –32), who squandered his father's money. The parable of the prodigal son is one of the greatest love stories ever told - a story filled with mercy and grace. It is a parable of how God views us and how we can choose to .

Inspired by Rembrandt's famous painting "The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen embarked on a long spiritual journey in search of the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the gospel reading is the famous parable of the "prodigal son." It is a moving story that teaches us about God's love for . The word parable (Hebrew mashal; Syrian mathla, Greek parabole) signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning.

Pope Francis Has a Challenge for the Prodigal Son’s Older Brother