Open Bible: June 2002 

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Jesus, the prodigal son




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Jesus, the prodigal son, Luke 15, 1-3, 15-32

We are not accustomed to this qualification given to Jesus, although it was well used by the Fathers of the Church. " Publicans and sinners were all coming to listen to Jesus", said Luke in the introduction of his Gospel. Here is how Jesus behaves: he welcomes Publicans without reservation, like Mathew whom he was made one of the twelve, like Zachary in who's home he publicly invited himself, he is acquainted with women of bad reputation like Mary-Magdalena that he made the first person to announce the Resurrection (Jn 20, 11-18). More so he eats and drinks with them, something that well educated people don't often do!

But that is not all: dropouts, outcasts, those who are in the dock, the lepers, the blind, the deaf people, the disabled, all those suffering in those times run up to him, he welcomes them and often answers their request. And this he enjoyed; Jesus is really the prodigal son of his Father.  marginaux

Not to ressemble the eldest son.

" Pharisees and Scribes were recriminating against Jesus: this man welcomes sinners and he eats with them!" His opponents, locked up in their prejudices and their virtues, even allowed themselves to accuse God because they served him, as it is required, during many years without failing to observe any of his commandments. Sure they scrupulously practiced their religion but without loving the others, they preferred law instead of love.

Père et deux frères  Notice how Luke expressed himself: when the eldest son, spoke with contempt of his youngest brother in saying "your son", the Father answered " your brother". 

There is a huge gap between this two designations, a gap that will be closed when the eldest will consider the youngest as his brother, then he will really know who is his Father and what means: ", You, my son, you are always with me and all that I have belongs to you."
The parable does not tell us what the eldest did; did he enter the room of the banquet to join his brother and celebrate with everybody? Or instead, persistent in his refusal, I, a well-mannered man, I don't keep company with the sinners? At the end of the parable we don't know. And it is not important. What is important is what we think, what we do and how we act. Are we like the eldest son or like Jesus the prodigal son of the Father?