No matter what our interpretation of this story, the fascinating fact remains that this is one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables among Christians and non-Christians alike. And maybe it’s one of the most relatable. In some way, we can all find ourselves in this story.
At some point when I was in college, my campus minister and mentor shared with me a copy of the book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming,” by Henri J.M. Nouwen. It was one of those God-things because it came at a time when I needed it. Feeling the frustration of being the “good child” who still had not received God’s blessing (in my perception), I needed to be challenged to find a new perspective, lest my frustration turn to anger at God (which, I must admit, it did for a time). Most of us can only see God as the parental figure, and so we assume that we must be one of the children. And we are. But the message of the story becomes more personal when we allow ourselves to realize that we are to learn to become like the parent. Nouwen’s words remind me still: “ …true call is to become a father who only blesses in endless compassion, asking no questions, always giving and forgiving, never expecting anything in return.”
We have the opportunity of sharing this text from Luke 15 again on Sunday. Perhaps you will join us for worship, and we can find ourselves together being welcomed home again.
Love and Grace,