Above: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
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Before and After
MARCH 16, 2016
Joshua 5:9-12 (New Revised Standard Version):
The LORD said to Joshua,
Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.
And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Psalm 32 (New Revised Standard Version):
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me,;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not teach them.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (New Revised Standard Version):
From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 (New Revised Standard Version):
All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying,
This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.
So Jesus told them this parable:
There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands’”‘ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.
Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A:
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B:
2 Corinthians 5:
Prayer of Praise and Adoration:
Prayer of Confession:
Prayer of Dedication:
These are readings about new beginnings in God. Happy and blessed are the forgiven, Psalm 32 says. In Joshua 5 the Israelites celebrate the first Passover in the Promised Land. Jesus, in Luke 15, tells a story about a wastrel son, his resentful brother, and a loving father. I choose to focus on the parable in Luke.
Sometimes familiarity breeds reading on autopilot. So let us read the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Let us really read it. A rebellious younger brother insults his father and wastes his share of the inheritance. Then he comes to his senses after he hits bottom. So he returns home and throws himself on his father’s mercy. The father, who has been looking for his son’s return, welcomes him home and throws a great party for the occasion. All is forgiven. Yet the dutiful older brother wonders why he never got a party. And this brother imagines what his younger sibling might have done with all that money.
Before the younger brother was a fool; now he is sensible. Before the older brother was resentful. But is still that way after his father pleads with him at the end? The story ends without resolving that question. Now the younger brother can be what he is supposed to be, but what about the older brother?
How does this story relate to you, O reader?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 22, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR
THE FEAST OF ROTA WAITOA, ANGLICAN PRIEST