Sunday Readings: Joshua 5.9,10-12; 2 Corinthians 5.17-21; Luke 15.1-3,11-32
Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger said to the father, ‘Father, give me the share of your property that will fall to me.’ So the father divided up the property. After a few days the younger son, having gathered together all of his things, went away to a far off country.“
Most of us know Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. Indeed the focus commonly falls on the prodigal, the problem child. Jesus focuses first on the father; it’s a parable about a man with two sons and his relationships with both. It’s also a parable about the relationship of the brothers to each other. For me, the parable brings up my younger sister, severely hard of hearing, to whom our teacher mother devoted constant phonics lessons. My sister liked to hold her ears and claim I was shouting or worse whistling to hurt her ears. I got a reprimand. Is Jesus about the younger son who absorbs more attention that the other son? Or is the parable about me, the dutiful oldest child, dependable and responsible, who ran errands the fastest? Or is the parable about the older brother who resents his father welcoming back his brother and feels under appreciated. Who is lost? Or is the parable about the father who knows each son and reaches out to each? Then there is the feminist question. Where is the mother? Is her absence the reason a favorite younger son grows apart and a dutiful older son fails to please his father no matter how hard he tries? The story gives us no clue, but these questions introduce familiar family dynamics.
Who are you like in the parable–the wild lost son? The dutiful son? The challenged father? The absent mother?
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