Luke 15: 1-32
Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat. He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”
The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?” The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”
God asks us to live – from childhood to old age, to make the most of who we are and what we have. The word ‘Prodigal’ doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it means wasteful and extravagant, without the need for economy. The young boy, seeing his life before him, decides, maybe foolishly, that he isn’t going to live forever; so why not spend, spend, spend?
The reality being that he is going to live a lot longer than he thought; and that he will learn that life is not always about the good stuff. But, he has to find out the hard way; and they will be hard lessons that he will never forget. He takes the journey down as far as it will go, but sitting at the bottom of the barrel, he sees sense and heads back home.
He knows the heart of love that allowed him to go; the generosity that gave him his inheritance without condition; the grace that wished him well; the joyful love that will welcome him back. He knew that love before he left. It was that love that actually gave him the confidence to go; to be free to be young; to grow up; to be lavish, extravagant and wasteful. It was that love that allowed him to make mistakes and so to learn from them. And then to remind him where he needed to be when there was nowhere else to go – because sometimes Home is not a place but a Person.