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Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 27, 2022

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Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 27, 2022

I have heard it said that this parable should be known as “The Profligate Father,” rather than “The Prodigal Son.” The father gives and gives and gives. Indeed, without the father’s inexhaustible mercy and generosity, it would end in tragedy, not reconciliation.

It all begins with that younger son coming up to his dad and saying, “Father, I want you dead.” That is what the son’s request means (vs. 12). The old man didn’t argue or protest, he simply handed over the son’s inheritance as if he’d already died (vs. 12). That patricidal son took off without a single concern for the father; he left as if the father was dead. In that “far country,” his wealth squandered, his hunger intense, and his presence unnoticed (vs. 14-16), he himself was as good as dead.

A dead father… a dead son… what will move them from death to life? Repentance… repentance. The father is repented in the son’s mind as the son recalls his father’s generosity (vs. 17). The son is repented of his selfish suspicion that the father withholds his blessing (vs. 19). Upon the son’s return from the land of death, the father bestows life upon him: the robe of honor, the ring of the family’s authority, shoes (not sandals), and the celebratory feast of the fatted calf. The father possesses inexhaustible riches. 

And then the older son enters the picture. He, too, is dead to the family. For him, family was all about reciprocity: work equals reward; the more work, the more reward. This son, too, wanted his father dead because his work would be rewarded with his inheritance… an inheritance he had earned by his years of service and decades of obedience. He was filled with anger at the unfairness of it all. His brother, with no service and no obedience, was being feted and celebrated even though he had robbed the estate and squandered the proceeds. 

Repentance moves from death to life. The younger son needed to be repented of his selfish suspicion of his father’s intention. The older son needed to be repented of his selfish work ethic. Repentance kills that selfishness and returns both sons to the inexhaustible mercy of the father.

Table Talk: Describe the suspicions these two sons possessed.
Pray: Father, grant that I live from your generosity, not from my greed. Amen

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, This man receives sinners and eats with them. 3 So he told them this parable:

11 And he said, There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me. And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.

25 Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound. 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him! 31 And he said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.

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