Thursday of the Third Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Luke 15:11-32

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 24:1-31; Acts 13:1-12

"For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:24)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is a parable of two prodigals. The first is the younger son, who demands his inheritance and takes off to waste it in extravagant living. The second is the father, who before his rebellious son can even utter a word, has received him back into the family and plans an extravagant welcome-home feast.

Prodigal simply means extravagant. In a negative sense it can be wasteful or reckless, but in a positive sense it can be lavish or abundant. The difference is between being inwardly prodigal and outwardly prodigal. The son was extravagant toward himself; the father was extravagant toward his son.

But we get these two mixed up all the time. The parable presents a reckless younger son who squanders all his property living a hedonistic lifestyle to heighten the contrast. But if you turn down the volume just a bit, you end up with a typical American consumer. We're more like the younger son than we'd like to think.

But when confronted with the father's extravagance toward his son, we say, "Whoa! Hold it!" This guy deserves a lesson. Better to withhold all but the bare minimum. He can't be trusted. But the father has none of it. The son is received as a prince and set at the best feast the house has ever seen.

Similarly, when we see a notorious sinner received as a prince, we say "Whoa! Hold it!" Give him the bare minimum and let him live in the consequences of his sin. But the irony is that the sacrifice has already been made, the Lamb has been slain, and to refuse the feast in its full extravagance to a repentant son would turn the Father's prodigal grace into a prodigal waste.

So we look on with the third character, the faithful son who has always been in the Father's house. We, like him, are left at a point of decision. Is the Father's compassion and the sacrifice of Christ a reward for sin, or is it the restoration of sinners to the household of God? If it is the latter, then we also, who are part of the household, are invited to the same table as reckless sinners and feast on the Lamb who was slain for sinners. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for Your prodigal grace, and for receiving us sinners as sons; through Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain. Amen.

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