Lenten Meditation: Saturday, March 11, 2023
But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. --Luke 15:20
This parable of the so-called “prodigal son” is among the most famous in all of scripture–and with good reason! Like with Lazarus and the rich man, this parable is full of texture and narrative details. Among my favorites–that the father first sees his long-lost son from far away. Once he realizes who is coming down the road, the father takes off running, overjoyed just to hold his child in his arms after so long.
It was actually quite a social faux pas for an older man to be seen running! A man with his sort of authority and wealth should not have to run, and in fact, he would have to hike his robes up and expose his legs (another no-no!) to be able to run at all. This story is riddled with those sorts of cultural touchstones about respect, things we might not notice, but Jesus’ first listeners certainly would have. That a child would request their inheritance while their parent was still living would have been deeply offensive. Similarly, the father has to leave the banquet, where he is the host, to beg his other son to come in and join–a host should never leave their guests, and a father should never have had to beg their child. But the father doesn’t care about that at all. He is a fool for love! He can’t hold himself back from expressing his love, and he doesn’t care about social expectations if they keep his children from understanding just how much he cares about them.
After all that happens, the prodigal son and the “loyal” son are not that different from one another. Both feel entitled to what the father has, and both separate themselves from others, and the family. Perhaps most poignantly, both boys disrespect their father. And both have their father’s love–no matter what.
Today: Show a friend, a family member, or a partner that you love them–the more foolishly and extravagantly, the better!