Sunday, September 30, 2012
A VIEW OF THE PRODIGAL SON
"Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me," said the son to the father in the parable of the prodigal son. The father did not refuse his son, but certainly his heart must have been heavy as he watched his son leave. But what good to try and hold his son there under these circumstances, with the boy so convinced that the life he had was so much less than what he could have? How to tell him? How to make him understand?
And so the son separated himself from the presence of his father. There was nothing now to restrain him. He had freedom and money and youth. He traveled to that far country just as he had planned. All the money he had he spent in "wild living." There is probably no doubt given his youth and the fact that he'd never traveled away on his own that he was taken advantage of by many. He became immersed in a search for pleasure, but it cost him everything.
With all the money he had gone and no other way to provide for himself he took work as a swineherd, but clearly he was still desperately poor. So the story goes, he got to the point of wishing for the food thrown to the swine, and it's at that point that he knew. Jesus described the experience by saying the young man "came to himself." He understood at that point the goodness of all he had once had from his father. He made a decision that he would return to his father and ask for a place as a servant.
At the sight of his son, his father was filled with a sense of love and great compassion. The painter, Rembrandt, captured the full emotional impact of this reunion between father and son and the representation through the story of God's tremendous love and mercy. Here is the son, so changed by this experience; it has wearied him and aged him. He kneels before his father and receives love and understanding to a degree he had not dreamed of. Such is the love God has for each one of us in this world.