One example is the familiar parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), which in some ways might be better called the parable of the elder brother. For the point of the parable as a whole - a point frequently overlooked by Christian interpreters, in their eagerness to stress the uniqueness and particularity of the church as the prodigal younger son who has been restored to the father's favor - is in the closing words of the father to the elder brother, who stands for the people of Israel: 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.' The historic covenant between God and Israel was permanent, and it was into this covenant that other peoples too, were now being introduced. This parable of Jesus affirmed both the tradition of God's continuing relation with Israel and the innovation of God's new relation with the church - a twofold covenant.
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words 'compelle intrare, ' compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
Paul tells us that, "The wages of sin is death." That's the bill. Our choice to sin has created a barrier between us and God, taken a toll on our relationship with Him that we can't fix, repair, or pay off on our own. Let's not minimize the situation. We've lived in offense to a holy, righteous God, who reigns in justice. We deserve death for what we've done. Like the Prodigal Son, we've robbed honor from our Father. We have scorned His provision and fled from His house. We have chosen wild living with strangers over a relationship with Him. Like the Prodigal Son, we've told God we'd be better off if He were dead. We've lived in ways that prove our distrust and disbelief in Him. We've chosen a path that leads to starvation and death, so that's what we deserve. Despite all of this, God offers us a brand-new inheritance - one that has been reclaimed and redeemed by His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth and died for our sins. The bill was totaled up, and Christ died to settle that bill. After being crucified, He rose to life again, and He now beckons us home, having prepared a place for us. In the fullness of our sin, God responded with the fullness of His grace through Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we are inclined to think that a very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have known their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father's house, and never making him say, "Father, I have sinned."
The parable of the prodigal son, the most beautiful fiction that ever was invented; our Saviour's speech to His disciples, with which He closed His earthly ministrations, full of the sublimest dignity and tenderest affection, surpass everything that I ever read; and like the spirit by which they were dictated, fly directly to the heart.
Nature does nothing in vain, and in the use of means to her goals she is not prodigal. Her giving to man reason and the freedom of the will which depends upon it is clear indication of her purpose. Man accordingly was not to be guided by instinct, not nurtured and instructed with ready-made knowledge; rather, he should bring forth everything out of his own resources.
If men with fleshly mortals must be fed, and chew with bleeding teeth the breathing bread; what else is this but to devour our guests, and barbarously renew Cyclopean feasts? While Earth not only can your needs supply, but, lavish of her store, provides for luxury; a guiltless feast administers with ease, and without blood is prodigal to please.
Business in a certain sort of men is a mark of understanding, and they are honored for it. Their souls seek repose in agitation, as children do by being rocked in a cradle. They may pronounce themselves as serviceable to their friends as troublesome to themselves. No one distributes his money to others, but every one therein distributes his time and his life. There is nothing of which we are so prodigal as of those two things, of which to be thrifty would be both commendable and useful.
Michel de Montaigne
The forgiveness of God is gratuitous liberation from guilt. Paradoxically, the conviction of personal sinfulness becomes the occasion of encounter with the merciful love of the redeeming God. "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting..." (Luke 15:7). In his brokenness, the repentant prodigal knew an intimacy with his father that his sinless, self-righteous brother would never know.
The forgiveness of God is gratuitous liberation from guilt. Paradoxically, the conviction of personal sinfulness becomes the occasion of encounter with the merciful love of the redeeming God. "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting... " (Luke 15:7). In his brokenness, the repentant prodigal knew an intimacy with his father that his sinless, self-righteous brother would never know.
What is wanted - whether this is admitted or not - is nothing less than a fundamental remolding, indeed weakening and abolition of the individual: one never tires of enumerating and indicating all that is evil and inimical, prodigal, costly, extravagant in the form individual existence has assumed hitherto, one hopes to manage more cheaply, more safely, more equitably, more uniformly if there exist only large bodies and their members.
We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted...So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.
In Prodigal Son, Christine Sutton has penned a tight, brutally honest portrait of a psychopath reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon's 'Some of Your Blood'. This dark descent into the broken mind of Timothy Robert Shively will send chills down your back. Every word rings true, and every page is dark with menace. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up right now. You can thank me later.
We want to be saved from our misery, but not from our sin. We want to sin without misery, just as the prodigal son wanted inheritance without the father. The foremost spiritual law of the physical universe is that this hope can never be realized. Sin always accompanies misery. There is no victimless crime, and all creation is subject to decay because of humanity's rebellion from God.
Let us not be too prodigal when we are young, nor too parsimonious when we are old. Otherwise we shall fall into the common error of those, who, when they had the power to enjoy, had not the prudence to acquire; and when they had the prudence to acquire, had no longer the power to enjoy.
Charles Caleb Colton
In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation's generosities this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it . . . the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it . . . must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth of the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow.
I'LL SERVE YOUR *** LIKE JOHN MACENROE IF YOUR GIRL STEPS UP, I'M SMACKIN' THE HO WORD TO YOUR MOMS I CAME TO DROP BOMBS I GOT MORE RHYMES THAN THE BIBLE'S GOT PSALMS AND JUST LIKE THE PRODIGAL SON I'VE RETURNED ANYONE STEPPING TO ME YOU'LL GET BURNED 'CAUSE I GOT LYRICS AND YOU AIN'T GOT NONE SO IF YOU COME TO BATTLE BRING A SHOTGUN BUT IF YOU DO YOU'RE A FOOL 'CAUSE I DUEL TO THE DEATH TRY AND STEP TO ME YOU'LL TAKE YOUR LAST BREATH I GOTS THE SKILL, COME GET YOUR BILL 'CAUSE WHEN I SHOOT TO GIVE, I SHOOT TO KILL
There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: "In the long run we are all dead." And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.
There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: 'In the long run we are all dead.' And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.
Is not that government both unjust and ungrateful, that is so prodigal of it's favors to those called gentlemen, or goldsmiths, or such others who are idle, or live either by flattery or by contriving the arts of vain pleasure, and, on the other hand, takes no care of those of a meaner sort, such as ploughmen, colliers, and smiths, without whom it could not subsist? But after the public has reaped all the advantage of their service, and they come to be oppressed with age, sickness, and want, all their labours and the good they have done is forgotten, and all the recompense given them is that they are left to die in great misery.
W. S. Plumer said, 'We never see sin aright until we see it as against God... All sin is against God in this sense: that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set at naught... Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, 'I have sinned'; but the returning prodigal said, 'I have sinned against heaven and before thee'; and David said, 'Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned.
To my way of thinking, the concept drawings that Rembrandt did, the drawings he made that he used to model his artists, to work out the compositions of his paintings: those are cartoons. Look at his sketch for the return of the prodigal son. The expression on the angry younger brother's face. The head is down; the eyebrow is just one curved line over the eyes. It communicates in a very shorthand way. It's beautiful, expressive, and, in a peculiar way, it's more powerful than the kind of stilted, formalized expression in the final painting.
Ironically, it was the father's blessing that actually "financed" the prodigal son's trip away from the Father's face! and it was the son's new revelation of his poverty of heart that propelled him back into his Father's arms. Sometimes we use the very blessings that God gives us to finance our journey away from the centrality of Christ. It's very important that we return back to ground zero, to the ultimate eternal goal of abiding with the Father's in intimate communion. (pg. 243)
There whil'st the world prov'd prodigal of breath, the headless trunks lay prostrated in heaps; this field of funerals sacred unto death, did paint out horror in most hideous shapes: whil'st men unhors'd, horses unmast'red, stray'd, some call'd on those whom they most dearly lov'd, some rag'd, some groan'd, some sigh'd, roar'd, promis'd, pray'd, as blows, falls, faintness, pain, hope, anguish mov'd.
I thought of the parable of the prodigal son. We had made merry for the beloved child's return too - but what happens when the beloved child doesn't say she's sorry? The parable doesn't talk about that. Jesus figures of course you're sorry. Jesus, I thought, you blew it. Not everybody is sorry.
Caroline B. Cooney
O youth! youth! you go your way heedless, uncaring - as if you owned all the treasures of the world; even grief elates you, even sorrow sits well upon your brow. You are self-confident and insolent and you say, 'I alone am alive - behold!' even while your own days fly past and vanish without trace and without number, and everything within you melts away like wax in the sun.. like snow.. and perhaps the whole secret of your enchantment lies not, indeed, in your power to do whatever you may will, but in your power to think that there is nothing you will not do: it is this that you scatter to the winds - gifts which you could never have used to any other purpose. Each of us feels most deeply convinced that he has been too prodigal of his gifts - that he has a right to cry, 'Oh, what could I not have done, if only I had not wasted my time.
I do not believe we can truly enter into our own inner pain and wounds and open our hearts to others unless we have had an experience of God, unless we have been touched by God. We must be touched by the Father in order to experience, as the prodigal son did, that no matter how wounded we may be, we are loved. And not only are we loved, but we too are called to heal and to liberate. This healing power in us will not come from our capacities and our riches, but in and through our poverty. We are called to discover that God can bring peace, compassion and love through our wounds.
He came to put a harlot above a Pharisee, a penitent robber above a High Priest, and a prodigal son above his exemplary brother. To all the phonies and fakers who would say that they could not join the Church because His Church was not holy enough, He would ask, 'How holy must the Church be before you will enter into it?' If the Church were as holy as they wanted it to be, they would never be allowed into it! In every other religion under the sun, in every Eastern religion from Buddhism to Confucianism, there must always be some purification before one can commune with God. But Our Blessed Lord brought a religion where the admission of sin is the condition of coming to Him. 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are ill.
Fulton J. Sheen
Summer is a prodigal of joy. The grass Swarms with delighted insects as I pass, And crowds of grasshoppers at every stride Jump out all ways with happiness their guide; And from my brushing feet moths flit away In safer places to pursue their play. In crowds they start. I marvel, well I may, To see such worlds of insects in the way, And more to see each thing, however small, Sharing joy's bounty that belongs to all. And here I gather, by the world forgot, Harvests of comfort from their happy mood, Feeling God's blessing dwells in every spot And nothing lives but owes him gratitude.
Long time a child, and still a child, when years Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I; For yet I lived like one not born to die; A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears"" No hope I needed, and I knew no fears. But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep""and waking, I waked to sleep no more; at once o'ertaking The vanguard of my age, with all arrears Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man, Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray, For I have lost the race I never ran. A rathe December blights my lagging May: And still I am a child, though I be old Time is my debtor for my days untold.
It is true, I never stop wanting to learn the hard eucharisteo for deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice. Yet now wisps of cheese tell me gentle that this is the first secret step into euchaisteo's miracle. Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant - a seed - this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of life - even the hard - is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. (Page 57)
The Prodigal Dark morning rain Meant to fall On a prison and a schoolyard, Falling meanwhile On my mother and her old dog. How slow she shuffles now In my father's Sunday shoes. The dog by her side Trembling with each step As he tries to keep up. I am on another corner waiting With my head shaved. My mind hops like a sparrow In the rain. I'm always watching and worrying about her. Everything is a magic ritual, A secret cinema, The way she appears in a window hours later To set the empty bowl And spoon on the table, And then exits So that the day may pass, And the night may fall Into the empty bowl, Empty room, empty house, While the rain keeps Knocking at the front door.
The Prodigal Son They gave the deep end of their heart-a hue of crimson red, They whispered their desire and offered up their bed, Yet he prayed for the spirit in the wind and God's mysteries to find, And in the end it was her transparent heart that stole his restless mind, It really was no contest, not a question or even a doubt, But that is not where love ends or even what true love is all about, You see there was one other that rose above the rest, She was not like these women but still she was God's very best, So the moral goes: A child answered the call to this man's wandering heart, And that is how the story ends you see... she became his favorite part, And what happened to the virtuous woman who put his mind in hell, She became the whisper in his music and a mystery to tell.
Shannon L. Alder
This figure upon the Cross is not a MVD agent or a Gestapo inquisitor, but a Divine Physician, Who only asks that we bring our wounds to Him in order that He may heal them. If our sins be as scarlet, they shall be washed white as snow, and if they be as red as crimson, they shall be made white as wool. Was it not He Who told us, 'I say to you, that even so there shall be more joy in Heaven upon one sinner that doth penance than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance' (Luke 15:7)? In the story of the prodigal, did He not describe the Father as saying, 'Let us eat and make merry: because this my son was dead and is come to life again; was lost and is found' (Luke 15:23, 24)? Why is there more joy in Heaven for the repentant sinner than for the righteous? Because God's attitude is not judgment but love. In judgment, one is not as joyful after doing wrong as before; but in love, there is joy because the danger and worry of losing that soul is past. He who is sick is loved more than he who is well, because he needs it more. Some will feign sickness to solicit love and pretend wounds that the beloved may bind them.
Fulton J. Sheen
Happiness There's just no accounting for happiness, or the way it turns up like a prodigal who comes back to the dust at your feet having squandered a fortune far away. And how can you not forgive? You make a feast in honor of what was lost, and take from its place the finest garment, which you saved for an occasion you could not imagine, and you weep night and day to know that you were not abandoned, that happiness saved its most extreme form for you alone. No, happiness is the uncle you never knew about, who flies a single-engine plane onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes into town, and inquires at every door until he finds you asleep midafternoon as you so often are during the unmerciful hours of your despair. It comes to the monk in his cell. It comes to the woman sweeping the street with a birch broom, to the child whose mother has passed out from drink. It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker, and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots in the night. It even comes to the boulder in the perpetual shade of pine barrens, to rain falling on the open sea, to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers, A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace. And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question The bravery. Say it's not courage. Call it a passion. Would say courage isn't that. Not at its best. It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight, Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal. Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches. The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment. It is too near the whore's heart: the bounty of impulse, And the failure to sustain even small kindness. Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being. Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality. Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh. Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope. The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo. The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding. Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage, Not the month's rapture. Not the exception. The beauty That is of many days. Steady and clear. It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.