Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Parable of the Lost Sons

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, how many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him; he ran to his son, raised his hand then stopped himself, he tore his robe and began to weep.The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

So the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

But first, said the father *, bring the fattened calf and kill it. No, wait, that is not enough. Before we feast and celebrate this son of mine who was dead and is alive again there is one more thing to be done.

The older son was in the field. When he was brought near the house, he heard loud wailing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. Your brother has come, he replied, and your father wants to see you.

When the older brother realised his father’s intention he became distraught and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. You never even had to sacrifice a young goat for me. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill for him!

My son, the father said, this is the way of the world.

* Some early manuscripts include the phrase ‘with a grievous sigh’ others record ‘with a solemn determination’

The real story is here

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