Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
"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.'
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
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.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."'
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.'
But his father ordered his servants,
'Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.'
Then the celebration began.
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.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
'Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.'
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
'Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.'
'My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'"
There are times when we have heard something so often, we tend to lose sight of the meaning. I believe the story of the "Prodigal Son" is one of these stories. We know that this son was prodigal. The Oxford Dictionary defines this as "spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant." After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
We might not have thought of the Father as prodigal. The Oxford Dictionary has a second definition for prodigal: "having or giving something on a lavish scale'. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. . . . and said, 'let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'
The prodigal Father had so much love for his son he would do almost anything to demonstrate this to his son. He wanted him to feel so loved he would never have the need to leave "home" again.
My twin sister and I were six days old when our Father told our Mother that he did not want this responsibility and left us. As I grew older, I felt the abandonment of not having a father figure in my life. I really struggled with this issue for many years. At one point when I reached a crisis situation in my life I discovered that I had never really been abandoned . . . . . God my Father had always been with me, loving and caring for me and had never abandoned me. He truly was my Prodigal Father.