Sunday, September 12, 2010
The Prodigal Son (one of my favorite Gospel parables)
The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother
11 Then Jesus* said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with* the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”* 22But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.
25 ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” 31Then the father* said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’
The Prodigal Son, also known as the Lost Son, is one of the best known parables of Jesus. It appears only in the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible (Luke 15:11-32). It is the third and final member of a trilogy, following the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin.
In Western tradition, this parable is usually read on the third Sunday of Lent. The Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally reads this story on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.
Catholic view on this Gospel:
In his apostolic exhortation titled Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (Latin for Reconciliation and Penance), Pope John Paul II used this parable to explain the process of conversion and reconciliation. Emphasizing that God the Father is "rich in mercy" and always ready to forgive, he stated that reconciliation is a gift on his part. He stated that for the Church her "mission of reconciliation is the initiative, full of compassionate love and mercy, of that God who is love." He also explored the issues raised by this parable in his second encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Latin for Rich in Mercy) issued in 1980
VATICAN CITY, OCT 23, 1997 (VIS) - The encyclical letter "Dives in Misericordia" (Rich in Mercy) was written by John Paul II during the third year of his pontificate. The Pope signed it in Rome on November 30, 1980, and it was published on December 2 of that same year.
In this encyclical, the Holy Father addresses the theme of divine mercy, with the hope that this document may be "a heartfelt appeal by the Church to mercy, which humanity and the modern world need so much." He also underlines that God's merciful love is his "most stupendous attribute", stronger than all the evil there is in the world.
Likewise, he recalls that mercy does not humiliate man, but on the contrary, gives him new value. John Paul II explains God's love and mercy for us through a long commentary on the parable of the prodigal son.
The encyclical is divided into eight chapters: "He Who Sees Me Sees the Father," "The Messianic Message," "The Old Testament," "The Parable of the Prodigal Son," "The Paschal Mystery," "'Mercy ... From Generation to Generation'," "The Mercy of God in the Mission of the Church" and "The Prayer of the Church in Our Times."
This is truly one of my Favorite parables