Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church.
12 things you need to know about the Prodigal Son
There is more to the story of the prodigal son than meets the eye. Here are 12 things you should know about it. On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the gospel reading is the famous parable of the "prodigal son. But there is more to the story than meets the eye. Here are 12 things you need to know. What does "prodigal" mean? It's basic meaning is "wasteful"--particularly with regard to money. That's what the prodigal son does in this story. Why does Jesus tell this parable? What's happening in the parable?
What is the prodigal son asking for?
In this parable, the younger son demands "the share of property that falls to me" v. Think about that.
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Not many! What does the father's reaction teach us? What does the prodigal son do next? He thus plans to return to his father and say three things: a "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you" v. What do the actions of the prodigal son teach us? They teaches us the depths to which our own misuse of freedom will bring us.
What does the father do next? When the prodigal son returns to his father, something significant happens. The returning son must have been astonished! He says: a "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you" v. What do the actions of the father teach us? As a result, his return is something to be celebrated! Because "This my son was dead, and is alive again" and "He was lost, and is found. He doesn't begrudge us what we have done.
He doesn't take us back reluctantly. Like the father in the parable, he takes us back joyously! But this is not all there is to the story. What does the older brother do next?
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He didn't demand his inheritance. He stayed faithful to his father. And now he is angry. The older brother is so angry that he refuses to go inside and join the party. Naturally, his father hears about it and comes to talk to him.
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What does the father do? The father tells the son three things. What are the spiritual lessons for us? From this parable we can draw a number of spiritual lessons: We can be a genuine son of the Father--who is spiritually "alive"--and be "lost" through sin. We can turn our backs on our heavenly Father and leave him of our own free will. Mortal sin is a real possibility.
Mortal sin inevitably lands us in a far worse state than we were in originally. We can, however, return to the Father and be accepted by him with great joy. In fact, he is ready and eager to accept us back and forgive us, no matter what we've done. Christians who have never fallen should not resent those who come back.
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They should share in their Father's joy. Their own place is secure and their heavenly reward is not threatened. God loves them just as much as he loves those who come back through a dramatic conversion. What Now? I send out information on a variety of fascinating topics connected with the Catholic faith. He has a lot of interesting things to say! In the meantime, what do you think?
Loving the Prodigal Child
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Comments are published at our discretion. We won't publish comments that lack charity, are off topic, or are more than words. Thank you for keeping this forum thoughtful and respectful. The parable stands as an accusation against anyone who forgets their own falleness and need for forgiveness and acceptance. It could be easily overlooked by many, especially those who are guilty and blinded by their own self-righteousness.
We know the account: a man has two sons, one asks for his inheritance early, receives it and lives a life of dissipation. In time, a famine takes his livelihood away. He is destitute and working in a pigpen. As the younger brother is returning home, his father sees him and runs to him, rejoices over his return, and orders a large celebration.
And the father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar; he was waiting for him every hour of every day.
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In the meantime, as the older son returns from work, he hears and sees the party. He is upset and refuses to enter the party. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found. They are a summons to get out of ourselves, our hurt, our entitlement, and our resentment. The words are an invitation to freedom, compassionate love, and joy. The older brother is so wounded by his supposed slight that he cannot see and rejoice over the obvious: his brother was lost, away from family, and in a dark place.
He has returned home! As his sibling, the older brother should celebrate that his brother has returned home. He should join his father and his household in the delight of the moment. The invitation stands. Oddly, we are given no conclusion to the parable. We never hear whether the older son humbles himself and enters the party or whether he remains obstinate? Does anger, resentment, and entitlement win? While we may not know the conclusion of the parable for the older brother, we do have the power to decide what will happen in our lives.
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Will darker spirits prevail? Like the older brother, we all struggle with moments of self-pity and jealousy. We can also wrestle with rash judgment towards another even a sibling and with bitterness and indignation towards a family member or neighbor. We can refuse mercy and be enraged by the mercy that some will give to others.
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