The first, and probably most important, point to make is that there are two theologically significant “fathers” in Luke’s Gospel, occurring in two distinct contexts. The father never asks for an apology and is never seen to be hurt or angry. The son who was closest to the Father’s blessings became the least forgiving. We see some echo of the jealousy here of Cain and Abel. the servants probably did not wear sandals).) Did Jesus believe that Gentiles would be included in the renewed people of God? What the younger son comes to learn is that, cutting himself off from his father’s love, he has also cut himself off from his acts of love. Ironically, the son says “give me the share of your estate that should come to me,” which of course is a command for something owed, not a request for a gift. Perhaps, but this is a parable, and the details have a natural narrative justification. Jerome maintains that, the reason why the father gave him the shoes was that the prodigal son “lost the bridegroom’s dignity and was no longer able to celebrate Pascha with bare feet” (Letter 20 to Pope Damasus, on two sons). Sorry Andrew. Who hasn’t heard at least one sermon on “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32)?Most messages focus on the love of the father who waits patiently for his wayward son to come to his senses – after squandering his inheritance and compromising his integrity – and to return home into the loving arms of his father. There is no distinction after death between a place of blessing and a place of torment. What we see in the story of the Prodigal Son, therefore is a father who reflects both aspects of Divine Mercy: 1) His faithfulness to Himself, to His commitments as a Father to care for his children, and thus his "hesed," and 2) His passionate pity for His lost son's plight; in other words His "rahamim." He most likely had a stench of the pig pen from where I took another look at this, and of course, your argument, Andrew, is more subtle than I have given credit for. The bad son enters the father’s feast but the good son will not. [i] Jesus shares the parable with his disciples, the Pharisees and others. The wretched Lazarus is carried by angels to the side of “Father Abraham” after his death; the rich man calls out from Hades, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame” (Lk. There is also a nod to the sinners whom Jesus was attracting to himself, in the person of the younger brother. The word “give” in the first sentence of the parable is taken to be an imperative. Is Jesus anywhere else in the New Testament called or likened to a father? I still think it reduces a superb literary tour de force, which leaps from its context to other contexts, as described, to something bland and of antiquarian interest only. He excludes himself. His compassion can mean “mercy”; it seems here to be really a combination of pity and concern. The longing of the father to be united with the younger son, to be in relationship with him and to give of himself to him, is realized when he sees him. New Testament eschatological texts categorised by horizon, The narrative architecture of Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse in Mark 13, How Paul can proclaim one Lord Jesus Christ and not compromise Jewish monotheism, How the context makes sense of the separation of the “sheep” and “goats” at the parousia. These Jewish religious leaders of the first century did not think it was appropriate for a godly person to interact in such ways with t… The first act of the father is to give him the gift of affection. His disciples should love their enemies and be merciful, “even as your Father is merciful” (6:35-36). Ezekiel certainly had the same 2 groups in mind when he penned his reunification prophecy “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.” And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. I believe that both these errors are on the side on one coin. He made his own bed and now he has to lie in it. The older brother seems to have felt unappreciated because the father had never celebrated his faithfulness with even a less expensive animal, yet here he was extravagantly celebrating the return of his lost prodigal son. The “little flock” of disciples should not be afraid, for “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (12:32). His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.”. Progressive Christianity and the narrative-historical method. In reply to I still think it reduces a by Andrew. In the parable, the father represents God. Modern man also assumes he is saved by a God who has no choice but to forgive. Who is the first child? There is clearly a criticism of the Pharisees in the person of the elder brother, who is not a representative of righteous Israel, but rather self-righteous Israel, from whom the kingdom was withheld. I’m sorry I’m not contributing to the promotion of the viewpoint. Perhaps, but this is a parable, and the details have a natural narrative justification. Thomas Hardy as been a teacher and administrator in Catholic high schools for the majority of his working life. In this parable, the offence is the younger son’s behaviour, and the reception given to him by the father. Learn more. 16:22-24). But then your comment: doesn’t the older son’s claim that he has never disobeyed his father’s “command” evoke Pharisaic adherence to the Law of God? We stray as the prodigal son strays, but the Father welcomes us back no matter what we do. And the father does what he should. It gets even more shocking. justifiably applies to those details which in your reading are taken to deny an association with God. Instead of the older son working with and for the father as a gift to him, he interiorly believes he is storing up a debt that the father owes back to him, out of justice. Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? Inadmissible? Perhaps the father did not know which son was truly lost until this moment. The father then orders the servants to bring the best robe, no doubt one of his own (a sign of dignity and honor, proof of the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family), a ring for the son’s hand (a sign of authority and sonship) and It has all the qualities of a gift. God is not less for our sins. The ring: the commitment between God and man and father and son that has no beginning and no ending. 3. The son, after squandering the inheritance, finds himself in desperate straits and hires himself out to a local farmer who does not care about him. It seems to me unlikely that with two prominent father-figures already in his Gospel Luke would cast Jesus as a father in the story. I should point out that the exposition of the parable in the Finnish loghouse in relation to Rembrandt’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal’ can only be made if the exegesis of the preceding posts which I have offered in this comment is accepted as correct. Older and younger contain more than a hint of the old (historic national Israel), and the new (the people whom Jesus was gathering around himself as the reconstituted people of God). For the obsessively inclined, yet another post on the parable from opensourcetheology.net, the progenitor of postost.net, can be found here (23.12.2008). Grace is most often defined as unmerited or unearned favor. The father represents God the Father for He gladly receives His son as part of His family. But the impact of Jesus’s teaching in the parables is, I think, more than that of retailing pedagogical instruction. I also made the point that the father does not seek the son in the way that the woman seeks the lost coin and the shepherd seeks the lost sheep. Of course, on another level, you could say that the younger is the church. When Jesus gets in trouble with the ruler of a synagogue for healing a woman who had suffered from a “disabling spirit for eighteen years”, he argues, “ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Lk. Then the celebration began. The original lie was that he was “owed” his inheritance, an inheritance that he was “free” to squander badly. It is supremely rude to act in this way toward the father. 2. He knows he can only heal the relationship, in any real sense, if he returns to a Sometimes though, I think I understood it better, and believed it more fully, as an 8 year old. We act in like manner thinking we can earn heaven or act in such a way as to deserve creation and redemption, rather than seeing them as gifts. And in terms of connection to the Zacchaeus story, Jesus says ‘this man, too, is a son of Abraham. A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.”. These would be my reservations: 1. Since 1900. This can help us to understand the true nature of confession. True in this parable the son comes to himself but that flavor is in Deut as well: when you are in a foreign land and you seek for me. Could you please help me understand the practical consequences…? 3. What did Paul mean by the groaning of creation? It turns a three dimensional work of art into a rather flat two dimensional allegory. "The Prodigal Son" is a sculpture in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by George Grey Barnard that depicts the loving reunion of the father and son from the "Parable of the Prodigal Son." I take your point about allegorization, but the parable is told explicitly to address the objections of the Pharisees about Jesus eating with “tax collectors and sinners” (15:1-2). The father of the “Prodigal Son” represents God who gives his divine love and forgiveness. The latter is a thinly veiled representation of Andrew. The rich will be brought down and excluded; the poor and weak will be lifted up and included. The older son is the Jealous Jew derived from Abraham while the Gentile story is found in Ishmael.Who else goes off and eats with the pigs? 13:16). As does the parable of the labourers. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.” He said to him, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. The other third is the father. All rights reserved. It also highlights Ishmael in a very prominent Jewish manner that is expected to be noticed significantly. I don’t see what’s insensitive about labelling Nouwen’s interpretation as an “uncritical midrashic” re-reading. And in this, the son was right to express to his father what he was feeling and perhaps reveal to him the real rift in the family. Parable of the Prodigal Son and Forgiving Father - Luke 15:3-32 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons (1). The son’s demand for what is a gift, forces the gift-act of the father into one of justice: “that should come to me,” that is, “what is owed to me.” Debt can only arise out of justice; gift can only arise from gratuity. He longs to continue showing his love to his son by giving him the gifts of his presence, his time, his affection, and his material benefits, but is frustrated from doing so. Jesus, it seems to me, was addressing his stubborn fellow Jewish countrymen, reminding them about the … The father divides everything that he has between his two sons. Jesus acknowledges that the hard-working Pharisees are part of the family of Abraham. It is something stored up by the effort of the father precisely as a gift to be used when he can no longer provide for his sons, as he did when he was alive. Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. Without relationship, gifts do not flow. How long did Judah stay in Babylon [2 Kings 20:17]? The older son, who has always obeyed the father’s orders and served him, sees the father’s acceptance and gifts toward the prodigal son as an act of injustice since the father has not treated him in like manner, with a party. His homeland signifies heaven, while the far-off land signifies this fallen world. America's foremost pastoral publication. ‘The Lost (or Prodigal) Son’ is a very famous parable. Nevertheless, the father hears the son’s request and acquiesces to it. In his reading, the older brother is dealt with tenderly, even sympathetically, because it is himself. The Magis Center for Catholic Spirituality. Just as the father met the “Prodigal Son” on his journey home, he came out to talk with the “Pouting Son” in his unforgiving attitude. – Mama Needs Coffee. Key to this echo, I think, is “death and life.” Deut sets for life and prosperity and death and adversity; Yahweh set before them life and death: the son was dead and is now alive. Norman, thanks for the comments and the links. If you enjoyed reading this post, why not share it with associates, friends, and loved ones? “He became angry, and refused to go in”. Arguably, they should be comparing their lives with the older brother, which is what most become, or tend to become. This is not an extrapolation, as we see “gifting” is the first act of the father when the son returns. Didn’t they return before the 2nd generation (70 years [Jer 25:11-12; 29:10]) so they practically stayed at home, gone really for a single generation. The prodigal son has been claimed oftentimes to represent the repentant soul, this makes its identity clear. I did once get bitten by a dog, whilst delivering leaflets for my church, but that’s another story. There doesn’t need to be a condemnation of the older son, and he is certainly not commended for his hard work. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. After the Prodigal Son came back to his senses, he began the journey home. I’m of the opinion presently myself that Genesis is a product of exilic Judaism early on and all the stories are messianic themes of the redemption of not only the Jews but of the Gentiles as well. I had a quick look and will try at some point to consider Jordan’s argument—and others like it—in more detail, but for now I’m not persuaded that Jesus intended the parable to be read as a retelling of Israel’s history, whether Isaac and Ishmael or the return from exile. 15:32). The word ‘prodigal’ means “recklessly wasteful”. https://heavy.com/entertainment/2019/09/the-prodigal-son-meaning-plot Jesus tells the stories to justify his practice of eating with tax collectors and sinners. The narrative-historical method—an outline, Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament. In reply to Sorry Andrew. Now he is ready to learn the lesson. The connection with the Zacchaeus story is obvious: when Jesus entered the house of Zacchaeus, people “grumbled” (diegonguzon) because Jesus had gone to be a guest at the house of a man who was a tax collector and sinner. His “conversion” seems more of a calculation. The original lie is exposed and this should with His grace allow me to see the Heavenly Father through eyes of Faith. Even if they “are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you” (30:4). In spite of the boy’s poor choices, God does not see son number two as an embarrassment. Maybe we find ourselves to be none of these characters and wonder why it … In Deuteronomy 30 God drives Israel into exile, Israel repents, and God gathers the outcasts from the ends of the earth. The father starts barking out orders to throw an extravagant party and adorn the son with robs, rings, and new sandals. Such interpretations not only yank the parable out of its historical context, they lessen the message of Jesus and How long did Israel stay in Assyria [1 Chr 5:26][2 Kings 17:6]? Should Catholics Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine? 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