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June 2016


Eleven year old Shawn Joseph from Bristol reflects on the parable of the prodigal son and how it explains the loving and forgiving nature of God our father.


The parable of the Prodigal Son tells the story of a rich man. His two sons were each entitled to some of his money when he died. The younger son asked for his share early so that he could enjoy some time with his friends. His father gave him his share and the son left home to go far away. This son spent all his money enjoying the pleasures that the city had to offer. When all his money was gone, he could only find work feeding some pigs. Hungry and penniless, the son decided to return home and ask for forgiveness from his father and offer to work as his servant. After all, even his father’s servants had something to eat and clothes to wear! The son went home but on seeing him approaching, the father ran out and embraced his son. The father was so overjoyed at his son’s return that he organized a party and killed the fattest calf and put a ring on his younger son’s finger. Seeing all the commotion, the older brother asked his father why he, the one who had always worked hard for him, had never been given a party or a fatted calf. Looking at his older son, the father said that his younger son had been lost and had now returned, and this was a good reason to rejoice.


In the story, God is the loving father and the younger son represents people who turn away from Him, looking for pleasure and happiness away from God’s loving care. The older son represents those who are proud and easily get jealous. In Jesus’ time these were the Pharisees, who were hypocrites. In those days asking for a share of your inheritance early was like saying to your father, “I can’t wait until you die!” This shows total disrespect for the father, who gave him life and also shows the generosity of the father who was willing to give him what he asked for. In the Bible it says that the younger son went far away, meaning that he was obviously at a considerable distance from the safety of his father’s home. The younger son represents sinners who are lost and need to return to their Father’s loving protection. Through this parable Jesus is showing us how loving and caring God is.


Let’s look at our role in this parable. Are we the younger son? Do we turn away from our loving Father, God, who has given us the gift of life? Do we crave for the pleasures of life, like money, partying or the latest technology, thinking only of ourselves and failing to love others? Or are we like the older son, who is jealous because his brother was given a party and he wasn’t. When we harbour feelings like this of jealousy and pride, it leaves no space for us to love others. Do we pray for fame and recognition for ourselves and not for the needs of others? Are there aspects of the two brother’s characters in our own lives? Don’t forget that our loving Father loves both brothers in the story, and He loves us too. He rejoices and celebrates when we turn around and come back to Him, seeking to remain under His care and protection.