Prodigal Son


I think the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) may be the greatest short story every written—and perhaps the clearest and deepest description of Jesus' unique understanding of our purpose in life, and our relationship to our spiritual Source. There's so much in the story it would be impossible to encompass it all in one reply, so let's focus on the aspect of grace, which is, I think, the point of the story.

We're familiar with the details of the first part of the story: the beloved son who takes his inheritance, wanders far from his home, squanders money on life experiences and finds himself alone, impoverished and forced to work at the most debasing job imaginable for a good Jewish boy—feeding pigs! Beyond the physical challenges, he feels spiritually bankrupt. He assumes that his Father must be furious at him—that by leaving home he has separated himself from his Father's love. And "when he came to himself" and realized that he could not spend his life feeding pigs, he carefully rehearses the groveling kind of plea he'll make, entreating his father to at least let him work as a hired servant.

Here, of course, comes the moment of grace. When his father sees him at a distance, he comes running to greet him. He never really hears the carefully rehearsed speech, but orders that he be robed and jeweled and shod and declares a celebration to honor his son, who "was lost and is found." Jesus' understanding of our relationship to the Father is radically different from beliefs that insist God is angry, vengeful, and demanding retribution for our 'original sin' of leaving our spiritual home to venture into this human experience. God's grace is not something we must earn, or plead for. It is an infinite energy of love that is never absent, even when we feel most separate from it. It is God's good pleasure that we move through this human experience, learning valuable lessons so we return to our Source with a deeper appreciation for the love and abundance available there.


Rev. Ed