THE PRODIGAL FATHER

Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Source | Eugene Peterson, The Message, Luke 15: 11-32

PONDER AND CONSIDER

In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller uses this parable to describe two different types of people with two different ways of engaging the world, each represented by the two brothers.  One type needs to experience the world, make mistakes, and seek forgiveness.  The other needs to stay behind, work hard, only to be disappointed when God treats both kinds equally.

  • Where do you see yourself in the story? Are you the younger brother? The older brother? The welcoming father? How do you feel as you enter the story and watch it unfold?
  • In both cases – the younger brother away with the pigs, or the older brother much closer but still outside the Father’s house – what is it going to take to wake up and come to your senses?
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SOW WHAT

There was a woman who wanted peace in the world and peace in her heart and all sorts of good things, but she was very frustrated. The world seemed to be falling apart. She would read the newspapers and get depressed. One day she decided to go shopping, and she went into a mall and picked a store at random. She walked in and was surprised to see Jesus behind the counter. She knew it was Jesus because he looked just like the pictures she’d seen on holy cards and devotional pictures. She looked again and again at him, and finally she got up enough nerve and asked, ‘Excuse me, are you Jesus?’ ‘I am.’ ‘Do you work here?’ ‘No,’ Jesus said, ‘I own the store.’ ‘Oh, what do you sell in here?’ ‘Oh, just about anything!’ ‘Anything?’ ‘Yeah, anything you want. What do you want?’ She said, ‘I don’t know.’ Well,’ Jesus said, ‘feel free, walk up and down the aisles, make a list, see what it is that you want, and then come back and we’ll see what we can do for you.’

She did just that, walked up and down the aisles. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, peace in families, no more drugs, harmony, clean air, careful use of resources. She wrote furiously. By the time she got back to the counter, she had a long list. Jesus took the list, skimmed through it, looked up and smiled, ‘No problem.’ And then he bent down behind the counter and picked out all sorts of things, stood up, and laid out the packets. She asked, ‘What are these?’ Jesus replied, ‘Seed packets. This is a catalog store.’ She said, ‘You mean I don’t get the finished product?’ ‘No, this is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them to grow and someone else reaps the benefits.’ ‘Oh,’ she said. And she left the store without buying anything.

Source | Megan McKenna, Parables. The Arrows of God

PONDER AND CONSIDER

What can you do, in your most proximate surroundings, to nurture and grow the seeds of peace?

DEEPER MEANING

The master gave his teaching in parables and stories, which his disciples listened to with pleasure – and occasional frustration, for they longed for something deeper.

The master was unmoved. To all their objections he would say, “You have yet to understand that the shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story.” 

Source | Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom,
(Doubleday, 1986) page. 23

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story

THE NAKED TRUTH CLOTHED

Truth entered a village naked as the day she was born. The villagers had one look at the naked truth and were afraid of the stark harshness and drove her out in anger and malice.

Dejected, the Truth wandered in the desert. Without food and nourishment, she weakened and would have soon died of loneliness. One day she got to the home of the Parable. Parable took her in, nursed her back to life. Soon the Truth was feeling well again. This time she returned to the same village clothed in a parable and was welcome and accepted with ease.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Whenever, and wherever stories are told – be it through teaching, preaching, counselling, spiritual companionship, management – a chord is plucked within the understanding of the listeners. Often the story is heard by the ear, but listened to by the sub-conscious mind where its deeper meaning resides.