The Prodigal father
As part of this initiative, I read my favourite parable, which is also a parable to which I often get in my homilies. I think i have written atleast two or three times about the same. Links are there at the end of the articles.
The beauty of the parables is that, each time when you read, it can give you something more than before. It may not be a revolutionary new idea, but it can strike chords with you somewhere. There are atleast four situations in the parable of the prodigal son (or prodigal father) where the sense of abundance is echoed.
- Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. (He had wealth in abundance).
- When he came to his senses, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! (He realized of the abundance available to the father’s servants. It is not jealousy, but a realization).
- But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Running is not a good act for elderly Jewish gentleman; but he does it here; it is just an abundance of love and mercy).
- But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (He is back to a state of abundance in wealth, rights and relationships; surely there is abundance of food and drinks too).
If we observe the first and fourth scene merely from a material point of view, there is abundance of wealth and food and drinks in both the cases. There is lack of all these things in the second scene; third scene is a certain moment of transition.
So what makes the difference between the first and the fourth scene. The happenings of the second and the third scene are responsible for the same. When that son had a realization of the material abundance experienced by his father’s servants, he started walking back. He took one step back home. Although he is sure that he is not worthy to be called the son, but he still call him father.
But the radicality of the gospel is in the third scene. A elderly man running towards his lost, but now found child. The child experiences not material abundance, but an abundance of mercy and love. He who considered himself worthless to be called son becomes a son; or he realizes that he is still the son of his father.
Yes, the love of the prodigal father is Christianity.
I am sure that many of my actions betray that love; thankfully some actions do embody it too. Lent is a good time to move from betrayal to embodiment of that love, which is freely available to us; just that we need to give it freely too.
For those interested,