Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Enigma of the Prodigal Son

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is the final part of the unique Lucan triad, the parables having in common the theme of lost and found or recovered. For those who have studied the various implications, it is the story of the ultimate outcast, a person reduced in status to feeding pigs, expressed in the language of economics. Darrell Bock has said the message is that “absolute reversal results from repentance. . . .”[i]

Traditionally the second half of the Parable that focuses on the elder son has been viewed as an attack on the Pharisees. Other scholars have said the elder son represents Israel, which has been replaced by the younger, favorite son representing the Gentiles.

The older son tells his father that he has never disobeyed his commands yet he refuses the father’s “invitation” to enter the celebration. The younger son had left town to live a life apart from his family. The elder son complains that he has never been given a calf so that he could entertain his friends. The sequence demonstrates that the elder son is also alienated from his father. More importantly, the elder son has publicly insulted his father by refusing to enter the feast.

The father responds to the elder son by displaying the same kindness and love that he has shown to the younger son. The father demonstrates his equal love for both sons.

The younger son has repented simply by returning home. In the parable nothing more is required. Jesus has redefined the prevailing view of repentance. There is no longer a requirement that penitence be visibly demonstrated to be effective. Those who created the canonical and the penitential systems did not understand the true meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

[i]. Bock, Luke, BECNT, (Grand Rapids, Vol. 2 1996), 1320.

Copyrighted 2005


Post a Comment

<< Home