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Saturday, March 9, 2013




Luke 15: 1-32

This parable revolves around three prodigals, namely the two sons who are recklessly wasteful and the father who is extravagantly lavish.  Each of them expresses his prodigality in a very peculiar way creating the tension and the drama which are interwoven into the colourful spectrum of the story.  But it is not just about three individuals in a short soap opera that we usually watch on TV but rather a mirror where we see our relationships with each other and with God.  This is our own parable which shows us how prodigal we are and at the same time the unfathomable mercy and the forgiving love of God our Father.  This is our life’s story with God….

Many exegetes (biblical scholars) say that this parable is a gospel within a gospel because it embodies the whole message of the Good News.  By telling this parable we see Jesus as a master story teller and St. Luke as a writer par excellence.  Henri Nouwen had written a book based on the text of the parable vis-a-vis Rembrandt’s famous painting of the same parable. For Nouwen, the return of the Prodigal Son was also a story of a homecoming.  John Paul II used this parable in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia by showing that the face of God the Father is the face of mercy and that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mercy.   

In the parable, the father lost his two sons: the younger one by squandering his inheritance through a life of sin while the older one by living a resentful and selfish life.  The father who is the central figure in the story has to contend with the idiosyncrasies of his two sons: one who is outwardly sinful and the other who is inwardly selfish.  The father holds the balance between his two sons through his unconditional love and mercy. The parable shows that both sons are outside the father’s house which means that they are lost and they do not share the father’s joy and dignity.  The father has to welcome both into his house and clothe them once more with honour and dignity.  It is only inside the father’s house that one can be called his beloved child.  Outside his house is nothing but sin and misery. In the parable the father awaits for the return of the younger son and at the same time goes out for the older son and welcomes both back to his home. 

Sin is nothing but leaving the Father’s house which is our rejection of God’s will.  It is expressed in many forms of disobedience, rebellion selfishness as shown to us by the two sons.  In our own prodigality, we squander the gifts of God.  When it happens we destroy not only our identity as God’s children but God’s fatherhood to us as well.  Like the two sons we also feel this misery when this dignity is taken away from us.  God on the other hand becomes “incomplete” because His house is empty without us.   
Jesus became the prodigal son Himself to bring all the prodigal children back to His Father’s house.  When we are lost because of a life of sin and we return back to God again who welcomes us again into His House then this parable has come to life through us.  When we are inside the Father’s house we are whole once again and God’s fatherhood is complete once more.  This is the redemption brought about by Jesus.


  1. This is the best homily I have received on the parable of "The Prodigal Son". It enhances all that we need to appreciate through our Lenten journey for metanoia to occur so we can give and thereby enjoy being part of God's merciful presence and enduring love for us. Thank you, Father.

    Margaret Meek.