God's Enduring Love

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

March 27th, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Lent - Luke 15:1-3,11-32

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Todays’ gospel offers one of the most well-known of the parables of Jesus. With the mere mention of its beginning, many will know what follows in this narrative. The line I’m thinking of begins, “A man had two sons.” Ah yes, we are going to hear once again about the prodigal son.

That’s the son who asked for his inheritance even before his father died (a bad move already) and then later wasted or squandered his “inheritance” on a life of dissipation. (Some translations say, “dissolute living.” or “a life of debauchery.” We are left to wonder exactly what he did while in that far off country. But, of course, that’s not the end of the story. Real surprises follow.

The biggest one being the reaction of his father upon his return. Note that he didn’t expect to be reinstated into his life as a son in the family. He figured he lost that position with his blowing of all that his father had generously given him earlier on. Instead of criticism and judgment, the father rejoiced at his wayward son’s return and hosted a great celebration in his son’s honor.

Here, let’s just think about this forgiving father. Certainly, the rules and expectations involving family relations were quite specific in the time when Jesus lived. Some may have been codified in law (like rules governing inheritance), but most of them were lodged in the hearts of parents and their children – and in everyone for that matter.

Most likely, the reaction of the other older son (he was quite bothered by his father’s behavior) would be judged as appropriate and understandable. In contrast, the father’s response would have been shocking to many. After all, there is simple justice to consider. People have to live with the effects of their actions.

But apparently, that was not how Jesus saw this situation. As one teaching about God as a loving “person” and presence, Jesus wanted to point out clearly with this parable that God’s love was primary and central to God’s relationship to us.

And God’s love for us is not extinguished by our misdeeds. God forgives, which is one of the most difficult truths to be accepted by us who are called to act in ways similar to the forgiving parent of the prodigal son.

©David M. Thomas, PhD


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