The parable of the Prodigal Son is so well known that we may easily skim over the surface of it thinking we already know everything it has to tell us. However, the central teaching – of forgiveness and reconciliation – is never easy to learn. We need to review what repentance and restored relationships mean many times before we really learn to put these basic principles into practice in a real way.
One of the problems with our approach to this passage is that we have almost forgotten the brother of the Prodigal. We focus on the forgiveness of the father, and the restoration of the son, but we miss the fact that the two brothers had to learn to find each other again. This was not an easy task, since the brother who had remained at home would now have to split some of his inheritance with his returned brother who had lost everything. His resentment is natural and understandable. But the question he needed to face was how much he valued his brother, how much he was willing to sacrifice for reconciliation, and how much he would rather be right than be in relationship. It must have been a tough choice, and the Gospel does not tell us what he finally decided to do. We are left to decide for ourselves the appropriate response in such a situation.
This week we will explore both the costs and the benefits of repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
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