The parables of Jesus have a way of breaking the shackles of time and speaking their word of God to every age. One parable of Jesus, which escaped the captivity of time and inspired artists like Rembrandt and composers like Debussy is the story of the Prodigal Son or as some have called it, “The Story of the Waiting Father.”
The prodigal son is still with us. He gripes against parental authority or the establishment as he sees it and he wants to get away from it all. The elder son is the conventional Christian wrapped up in a world of self-righteousness.
The abiding truth in the story is the kindness and the unconditional love of God, the Father, waiting to welcome home the prodigal and to say to the stay-at-home Christian ‘Son you are always with me and all that is mine is yours’.
In our lives, we can be a younger son/daughter and an elder son/daughter, but Jesus takes us further. He invites us to become like the Father. You know the expression "like father, like son," "like mother, like daughter." The Parable of the Prodigal Son reveals the true image of God and invites us to become like Him, to take care with Him of the world, to love with Him all our brothers and sisters wherever and whatever their situation may be.
Do we have such an unconditional love?
British writer E. W. Sangster has a slightly different version of this parable titled The Parable of the Prodigal Son as Jesus didn’t tell it, in which he depicts the image of an earthly father:
“And he [the Prodigal Son] arose and set out for his home, and when at last he arrived at the door, he banged, and there was no response. He stood there in his piteous rags and hunger for a while, and then he knocked again and a third time, and ﬁnally a window opened, and his father looked out and said: ‘Oh, it’s you! You’re spent up, I suppose. You look a nice beauty. What have you come home for? You’ve had your share of everything. You know where to come when you’re hungry…”
“And he said, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight…’ but his father banged the window and left him for a while on the doorstep. Presently his father opened the door and said, ‘You’re an utter disgrace to me and all your relatives. I’m ashamed of you, utterly ashamed But I’m your parent, and I’ve thought it out, and I’m prepared to put you on probation for three months, and if, at the end of three months I can find no fault in you, well, perhaps I’ll have it in my heart to give you another start… ”
The point is that the story as Jesus did tell it is larger than life. The father in the story is not just an ordinary human father but an extraordinary father whose outrageous love knows no bounds. He loves both His children, the one that went astray and returned and the one who remained at home. It is all about the fidelity of the love of God, who loves us not because of what we are but because of Who He is. Amen
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48