Mar 10 2010

The abundant life of Easter

Lenten reflection week 4

When you hear the word, prodigal, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The answer is probably the parable we hear this week (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32), commonly known as “The Prodigal Son.” In fact, the word is so well-associated with that story that you might have a hard time coming up with another context in which it is used.

For the record, prodigal means wasteful, excessive or lavish. In reference to the Gospel story, it describes an ungrateful child who leaves home, squanders his inheritance on extravagant living and learns the hard way that life back home wasnít so bad after all.

The story, as we all know, ends with the son repenting and being welcomed back into the family by his joyful father. But there is irony in this ending, for the father celebrates his sonís homecoming with some extravagance of his own. He kills the fatted calf and throws one heck of a homecoming party.

So, is the sin of prodigality (yes, it is a word) really the point here? After all, in the scriptures, extravagance is a quality often associated with God himself. Perhaps the real failure of the prodigal son wasnít so much his lifestyle as his lack of appreciation. He didnít appreciate his good fortune because he hadnít earned it, and that is why he made such poor choices in how he spent it.

When sponsors visit CFCA projects, they often comment upon the deep gratitude of sponsored persons. Although these hard-working families have little in terms of material possessions ñ or, perhaps, because of that fact ñ they are filled with genuine appreciation for what sponsors contribute to their lives. As a result they, like the prodigal sonís father, have the wisdom to recognize a true occasion for joy when they see it.

May this season of Lent bring each of us to a sacred place where we can truly enjoy the abundant life of Easter ñ that life which our extravagant God is just aching to share with us.

2 thoughts on “The abundant life of Easter”

    1. Thanks for the comment. The lesson around the behavior of the older brother is certainly a valid part of the story, but I’d stop short of stating definitively that it is ‘the’ point.

      Part of the richness and beauty of Scripture is that often more than one lesson can be drawn from the same story. This is especially true of the parables of Jesus, which are like multi-faceted diamonds that allow light to shine through in a variety of ways.

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