Date: March 31, 2019
This week we hear a reading from Luke’s gospel that virtually every adult has heard, the prodigal son. We all know a family – or are a part of a family – whose child has gone astray. We all know the “lost child” or “black sheep” of the family whose relatives speak of them in whispers and with a sense of judgment. We know the embarrassment some families feel about a sibling or child who has gone astray. There’s a mixture of feelings – anger, hopelessness, worry, helplessness and denial. This is true now and was true in Jesus’ time.
Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son in response to an angry and judgmental audience who were certain of the scope of divine salvation and those whom God has abandoned or should abandon. So sure of their righteousness, they build a barrier between themselves and the sinners in their midst. In response to the criticism of Jesus’ welcome of outsiders, sinners and persons deemed unclean, Jesus tells the story of two lost sons and a loving parent as part of a holy trinity of parables describing God’s care for the lost. That’s God! God never gives up no matter how unfair it may seem to the rest of us!