The Daily Lift for this weekend was inspired by the prodigious, loving men in my life (my dad, my first and second husbands, my brothers and many others) whose lives reflect such rich and generous love for others. Based on Christ Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, this two-minute podcast recounts a familiar story with a new twist.
Find the Lift in English and in French. And if you would like to read the full parable, here it is:
Luke 15:11-32 King James Version (or you can read it from the New International Version):
And he [Jesus] said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Happy Father's Day!
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Jesus gave the parable of the prodigal son, as a lesson on the correcting and redeeming power of the divine Father's persistent love for all his children. Who's to say that the younger son in the tale was the only prodigal?
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.
Corresponding passages in the Bible Lesson included this statement from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Evil which obtains in the bodily senses, but which the heart condemns, has no foundation..." (448)
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!
Find two blog posts that honor good fathers and good fathering:
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I expect most of us have, or have had, a habit. A habit is a settled, a regular tendency or practice. Sometimes habits are good and sometimes they are not so good. Unhealthy habits can become ingrained to the point of taking over no matter how hard we might resist.
So, what can we do to overcome a bad habit? Jesus gave a good example in his parable of the prodigal son. This young man had a problem with self-indulgence and overspending. One day he hit a low point. Degraded, without funds, hungry and desperate, he had a sudden awakening. Jesus said that he “came to himself” – that is, he woke up from self-absorbed thoughts and behaviors and sought refuge with his father. (See Luke, chapter 15)
Of course, Jesus used this parable to teach an important lesson. We can all turn back to the one divine Father, to God, whose open arms welcome every repentant child and who shows a way out of the desperate corners we sometimes place ourselves in.
I once had a bad habit of nail-biting. It became an annoying way of life for me. I had chewed my nails for as long as I could remember. I wasn’t hurting anyone else with this habit but I wasn’t very attractive to look at while I was gnawing away, and neither were the fingernails!
When I was little, my grandfather tried to help me stop. During one visit, he put tape over my fingernails. But, undaunted, I soon chewed through the tape. During another visit, he polished my nails with an awful tasting liquid. I managed to put up with the taste and the nail biting continued.
It wasn’t that I was deliberately trying to be disobedient. It just seemed I couldn’t help it.
As I grew older, I would make attempts to defeat the problem. But, the minute I started reading a book, watching TV, or going to the movies, I would find my fingers rising to my mouth and I was chewing again. And no human will – not mine, not my grandfather’s – could stop it.
The time came when I began to get serious about overcoming this habit. By then I was a grown woman with six children! But as a new student of Christian Science I realized that I could turn to prayer for problem-solving.
I remembered a certain Bible verse, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” (Matt. 25:21) When it came to mind, I prayed, asking God to show me at least one little thing in my life that I could be faithful over. I saw this as a way to be more in tune with God.
Then I thought, “Stop the nail biting.” This message seemed to me to be guidance straight from God telling me it wasn’t necessary to be trapped with an unpleasant habit.
I knew I couldn’t stop the nail-biting through will-power. I now saw another way. I could “come to myself” like the prodigal son and turn back to my Father. I could be faithful over what I did with my hands, as a form of mindful worship of God.
In fact, I was being called on to replace an old bad habit of nail-biting, with a new and good habit of being faithful to God by waking up to my true and good self.
I don’t remember much about the thought process that followed this insight, but I do remember feeling very confident that I could stop biting my nails as an act of faithfulness to God.
Not long after this, I was riding in the car with my husband. I remember my fingers rising towards my mouth and then, suddenly, they stopped. I was aware of God’s palpable, gentle presence with me. God’s goodness completely enveloped me. My hand dropped into my lap – and there it stayed.
The 40 year old nail biting habit ended that day.
So what was that presence that enveloped me in the car? What is it that prompts one to suddenly come to oneself after indulging a bad habit for a long time? I believe it is the Christ, the divine message of God, revealing God's goodness in action and reflected in His creation. The Christ has the ability to rouse us from mindless evil to a conscious awareness of God’s present goodness and our ability it express it.
It can be so reassuring to remember that the Christ is perpetually present. There is never a moment when we can be disconnected from divine good, never a time when we are without God’s help. Like the father in Jesus’ parable, our divine Father’s open arms are ever-ready to welcome us when we turn towards Him with a heart willing to change.
Breaking bad habits involves more than an adjustment of attitude and behavior. Waking to a better sense of ourselves as God’s good creation, we can form new habits, good habits, that reflect our spiritual, liberated selfhood as children of God.
Kay Olson is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no