This Sunday’s Gospel is one of the most familiar parables in the canon of scripture. It’s the story of the Prodigal Son, an arresting story that Jesus told to the shock and surprise of the people who originally heard it. It’s filled with shocking and scandalous behavior on the part of all three of the main characters: the Father, the Older Son and the Prodigal Son. When it is heard in the culture in which it was originally told, people are still astonished and dismayed the humiliating actions of all three characters, but particularly that of the father.
We’ve lost the shock at the story over the years, and in so doing may have misplaced at least one of the meanings. (This being a parable tells us that there’s more than one meaning. Perhaps there are many meanings.) In this sermon I explore the implications of the parable for the life of the modern Church, particularly in this cultural and historical moment.