Prodigal has two definitions that could apply to the storyline. "Prodigal [ˈprɒdɪgəl] (adj.)1. Rashly or wastefully extravagant; recklessly wasteful, as in disposing of goods or money 2. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse; lavish in giving or yielding."
A few weeks ago, I was studying a Bible Lesson that included the parable of the prodigal in the gospel of Luke. We are told that the father welcomed his repentant younger son back into the house and prepared a party to celebrate his return. Seeing the festivities, his eldest son became angry.
The father left the party to seek out his elder son in the field where he was hiding. He entreated him (that is, he earnestly dealt with him, treating his concerns). The son poured out the resentments that had built up over many years: of watching the younger brother fall short and yet seem to be favored. The father discerned his heart and lavished on him the one thing he needed most: To know that he, too, was greatly loved. He said "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." There would be no divided inheritance. All the father's love was available for each son.
This caught my attention because I couldn't see how the elder son had had a change of heart before he received his father's blessing. Had his own heart condemned the evil of anger and envy? Was that a prerequisite to his progress? Apparently, no. It was the father's heart, not the son's, that condemned the envy as having no place. The father showed the son that his suffering was without foundation. The father condemned the lie so his son would not suffer.
The younger son may be generally viewed as the prodigal because of the way he squandered his resources. But I think the other sense of prodigal better points to the father, whose lavish, unstinting, unsparing, bounteous love towards each son spoke to their hearts and met their needs.
Father's Day lets us pause to honor the prodigious fathers who give unsparingly of their hearts to their kids. But every moment of every day, our heavenly Father is reminding each one of us, "Dear, dear child of mine, you are ever with me. All that I have is thine. I will always love you. Open your heart and you will find that all that I have and all that I am is already there."
Happy Father's Day!
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