Summary: Fourth Sunday in Lent Series C Lectionary Prodigal Son
’’An Accepting God"
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
4th Sunday of Lent C
A young man had secretly misappropriated several hundred dollars from his employer. When the shortage was discovered he was called to the office of the senior partner Immediately he knew he would be fired and would have to go to prison. When asked if he were guilty, he replied he was. Then the executive surprised him. "If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?"
"Yes, sir, you surely can. I’ve learned my lesson," was the employee’s reply.
"I’m not going to press charges, and you can continue your present responsibilities," said the employer. "I think you ought to know, however, that you are the second man in this firm who succumbed to temptations but was shown leniency. I was the first. What you have done done. The mercy you are receiving I received. It is only the grace of God that can keep us both."
The grace of God. The love that God has for each of us what keeps life going. Our gospel lesson this morning concerns the grace, the love, the mercy of God. Our gospel lesson is about our Cod and how he accepts us; receives us and loves us.
The story, the parable in our gospel lesson is the familiar story of the prodigal son. I think this story has come down through the centuries mix-named. For it is more than a story about a son who misused the family fortune, it is more than a tory of repentance, how this wayward son decided to return home, it is more than a story about the jealous elder son who l stays home grudgingly helping the father manage the family farm. l t is much more than all of that, it is a story about the love, he forgiveness, the acceptance of a father. It is a story about the love Cod has for each of us. Yes, this story is filled with many truths concerning our Christian pilgrimage on this earth, but the focus of this story lies not with the prodigal son, nor with the jealous elder son, but the focus of the story lies with the father.
Let us take a closer look at this father and see just what kind of man he really was.
We can see right at the beginning of this parable one of he characteristics of this father. His younger son comes to him knowing that one day one-third of the family fortune will e his, and instead of waiting for his father to die to receive t, he asks for his share now. So the father says yes. He divides the family fortune.
The older son by law receives two-thirds and the younger one-third. Already we see the love and patience of the father. He could have ordered his son to stay at home, he could have refused to give him his share.. But e respects the lad’s desire for identity and independence and even adventure. His wisdom and experience told him of the dangers his son was going to face on such an adventure. But he knew that his son needed this experience,, he need the opportunity of learning first hand, perhaps, even the hard way, that life is more than living it in the fast lane. So, he hands over the fortune, and lets his son go.
While at home, the father and the elder son continue to manage the family farm. But the father is constantly watching, waiting, wondering how the younger son is doing. Then one day it happens. The younger son returns. The father sees him coming off in the distance. He runs to him, but his arms around him, hugs him, welcomes him back into the family. Though the son had hit the bottom,the father lifted him up. Though the boy had stupidly and selfishly squandered his inheritance, the father welcomed him back home. Though the boy disowned his family, the father restored his membership. The father accepted his lost son. He welcomed him back.
Notice, then how the father also treated the elder son. This son was jealous, he stayed at home begrudgingly, not because he wanted to, but because he felt like he had to. So when the younger brother comes home, and receives all of this attention, he becomes angry.
But notice the father’s response. He doesn’t rebuke or ignore him in the ecstasy of reunion; rather he reminded him of the added blessings they had been privileged to share in their joint ownership of "all that is mine," alleviating any fear of being short-changed in the future. He reminds the elder son that had the privilege, the opportunity to share in everything while the younger brother was away. The father also reminds him that the fortune is still his, he is not going to be left out, rather his future is well taken care of.