The Prodigal Sons

The Prodigal Sons

Grace and Peace from the Mystery in whom we live and move and have our being. The prodigal sons.

The story of The Prodigal Son is so well known.

It is the story of a younger son – a younger brother – who runs off with his half of the family’s wealth and squanders it on loose women and loose living. He does this until it all runs out and he realizes what he has done, and comes back with his tail between his legs… sorrowful and penitent… a perfect example of a humble heart… a role model for all of us.

We have so much to learn from the younger brother. He is an icon, an archetype, a saint in the truest sense of the word…

Eric interrupts: OK, I’ve had it. I can’t listen to this anymore. I can’t take this. There’s more manure in your opening than in last week’s parable of the fig tree! This is beyond the pale, Jim… Why is everything told from the younger son’s perspective? What about us older brothers? That younger son/brother didn’t come back repentant and humble … He was just using his dad like he did before… He keeps playing fast and loose with his family. When is he going to get his due?

Apparently NEVER! He gets away with it! I can’t take it anymore – I am so tired of this parable! Someone needs to speak up on behalf of the older brothers, the older siblings of the world who are respectful and responsible to their parents and elders. Can I get an ‘AMEN,’ older brothers and sisters?

Jim: OK Eric, why don’t you give us the older brother’s perspective in this parable. Pretend you’re the older son, the older brother. What are your thoughts?

Textbook definition

Eric: I’m glad you asked, because I did some research on this passage knowing it was coming up.

Now the phrase “Prodigal Son” is defined in the dictionary as:

A wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.

I want to repeat that:

A wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.

So I can understand why this is called the parable of the Prodigal Son. The younger son didn’t realize what he had. He squandered it and took advantage of it, used and abused it. He didn’t have a clue. He’s an idiot and a moron. And I don’t think he will ever get it. He squandered more than an inheritance – he squandered a relationship with his family.

But why not call this the parable of “The One True Son”?  That’s me you know. I’m the good son. I’m the one who has lived by all the rules. But where has that gotten me? On the outside looking in! All of you older siblings know what I’m talking about. You youngest siblings will never know. You youngest ones get away with everything. You don’t think the rules apply to you. And now you have a Bible passage to back it up. Us older ones always knew Mom and Dad loved you best.

You need proof? Just look at what my Father does when my brother comes home… he rewards my brother and chastises me! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

HOW MESSED UP IS THAT???

All my life I have been the good and obedient child. All my life I’ve colored inside the lines. All my life I’ve stayed in my lane.

No more “Mr. Nice Guy”

So when my dad came out to talk to me, I let him have it. I told him exactly what I thought. No more “Mister Nice Guy.” No more obedient and subservient son. If dad is going to reward bad behavior, then I am going to give him all that he can handle.

And so I did. I told him exactly what I thought. And you know what he said back?

 “Child, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”

WAIT A SECOND!!! WHAT???

All my life I have sought the approval of my father… Are you telling me it has been there all along? All my life I have sought the approval of the Divine… Are you telling me it has been there all along?

Uh, oh. This isn’t turning out like I expected. I don’t like where this parable is taking me…

Jim: That’s ok, Eric, I’ll take it from here. Let’s go back to that definition of the prodigal son you mentioned:

A wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.

You know Eric, maybe we are all prodigal sons … prodigal children. Maybe we have all squandered the Mystery’s grace … some of us through loose, fearless living … and some of us through uptight, fearful living.

We have all squandered our inheritance of grace because we can’t get outside of our reward/punishment world. And we have brought that into our relationship with the Mystery.

A New Creation

Eric: So what you’re saying is, my dad … my heavenly Father … the Mystery … is telling me that what he has, has always been mine. It’s almost as if he is calling me the Prodigal Son. It’s almost as if he is telling me I have squandered my inheritance through uptight, fearful living … that I have squandered my inheritance by thinking it’s a reward instead of a gift.

Is this what St. Paul means when he says in Galatians, that “neither uncircumcision, NOR circumcision count for anything…what counts is the NEW CREATION”?  I can understand that uncircumcision counts for nothing, but shouldn’t circumcision count for something? Shouldn’t my godly religious acts have some reward? Shouldn’t my being the good and obedient child count for something MORE?

Is my Father trying to tell me that neither fast and loose living … NOR good and obedient living count for anything MORE in his household?

Jim: I think so Eric, and the reason for that is, because there is NO COUNTING in the family of God. There is NO COUNTING in the Mystery in which we live and move and have our being.

A world with NO COUNTING AT ALL! What a NEW CREATION that would be.

What’s that definition of the prodigal son again?

A wayward son who squanders his inheritance but returns home to find that his father forgives him.

Parable of the Prodigal Sons

Perhaps this is a properly titled parable after all. No, wait … I take that back. It shouldn’t be called the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” … but rather, the “Parable of the Prodigal Sons” … or the “Parable of the Prodigal Children.”

Because you see, we are all children of the Mystery and we have all squandered its grace. Some have taken advantage of it and abused it – “If there is only grace then I can do whatever I want” – that’s the youngest son’s attitude.

Some have bastardized it and turned it into a game of reward and punishment – “God is gonna get you if you don’t straighten up like I have” – that’s the oldest son’s view.

All are welcome

We have bastardized the Mystery’s grace, the Father’s love. But guess what, there are no bastard children in the family of God. And the door into the house is always open, and the feast never ends. Deniers and betrayers, doubters and cowards are welcome…

Think Judas, Peter, Thomas and the rest.

 Those who play fast and loose with Divine grace are welcome…

“For the prostitutes and the tax collectors will enter the kingdom before you.”

Uptight Pharisees and holier-than-thou religious types are welcome…

“For the prostitutes and the tax collectors will enter the kingdom before you.”

Us holy folks will still enter – we just have to wait our turn.

No, the door into the house is always open, and the feast never ends.

It’s time to come home.

What’s that definition of the prodigal child again?

A wayward child who squanders their inheritance but returns home to find that their parent forgives them.

Maybe it’s time for all of us prodigals to come inside.

The feast is ready … the bread is broken … the drink is poured.

WELCOME HOME!!!

Amen.

Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint by Spirit in the Desert faith mentor, Rev. “Bro. Jim” Hanson, joined today by Spirit’s executive director, Eric Simonson.

Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud.

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