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The Return of the Prodigal Son – a parable

Posted in Bible, Parables, Religion on Friday, 11 February 2011

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This is perhaps the most touching of all the parables of Jesus. It  contains the powerful sentiment of reconciliation, the misery of self-loathing and the resentment and jealousy between siblings. It is a tale of forgiveness and redemption. A man has two sons, the younger of which asks for his share of their inheritance so he can make his way in the world. He is given the money, a small fortune, which he squanders in the dissolute city, consorting with prostitutes and rogues. He loses everything and becomes a swineherd. When misery reduces him to abject self-pity even to the depths of envying his snorting pigs, he realises he will have to abandon any vestigial pride and return home.

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The father sees his prodigal son and runs to greet him

This he does, and when his father sees him coming from afar, he runs to greet him with great emotion. A rich robe and  new sandals, along with the slaying of the proverbial fatted calf; all mark the father’s celebration and boundless welcome. The elder brother hears the tumult while out in the fields, and makes his complaint known when he arrives back home. He has devoted himself to virtue and hard work, for not even a goat to be given to him and his friends by his father. But the father remonstrates with a simple but profound observation, central to the teachings of Christ:

“Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15: 31-32).

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