Throughout the Gospels Jesus refers to God as "Father" — and taught his disciples to pray to "our Father in heaven." The question is: what did that word mean to Jesus?
This parable gives us a clue as to the kind of "Father God" our Lord believed in.
Wherever Jesus went, the weak and the willful, the lost and the despairing, cheaters and sneaks, liars and thieves and sinners of every sort came to hear His words.
The priests and church elders grumbled and gossiped among themselves, “This guy welcomes anybody and everybody!”
So the Lord told them a parable:
as retold by Deborah
There was a man who had two sons. The younger one talked his dad into giving him half of all the old man’s money. Shortly after that the kid took off for parts unknown.
Wherever he went, he traveled first-class, enjoying the high life — and then some. Soon he had wasted everything he had on gambling and drink and wild women.
It was then that a terrible depression hit the country, and the young man was homeless and desperate.
After enduring many weeks of abject poverty he finally found work as a swineherd — the dirtiest, lowest job of all. He spent his days feeding the hogs and cleaning up their yard, and his nights sleeping next to the pigsty.
He was so hungry he would have gladly eaten the swill that was fed to the pigs, but no one offered him so much as a crust of bread.
But then one day he thought to himself, “Wait a minute! The people who work for my father have more than enough to eat — yet here I am, starving!
“I will go home to my father and tell him, ‘Dad, I have messed up royally. I’m not worthy to be your son; but if you treat me like one of your servants, that will be enough.”
So the son set off to return to his father.
While he was a long distance off, his father saw him and was overwhelmed with love and pity — and he ran to him and hugged and kissed him.
Then his son said, “Father, I have made a mess of my life and done things I’m ashamed to admit; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants, “Hurry! Bring some clean clothes — the nicest ones — and get him dressed; give him some shoes and socks, and a ring for his finger.
“And you there! Go and get the best calf from my herds, and kill it, and we will feast and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again — he was lost and has been found!”
So they started the party immediately.
The elder son had been out in the field, and when he came in and got closer to the house, he could hear music and dancing.
He called to one of the servants and asked what was going on.
The servant replied, “Your brother has returned, and your father is having a celebration because he has got him back safe and sound.”
Hearing this, the son was outraged, and refused to even set foot in the house. His father came out and begged him to join them.
Shaking his head angrily, he replied, “Now listen! For years I have worked like a slave for you, never once disobeying or disrespecting you. Yet you have never gave a party for me — not even so much as pizza and beer for me and my friends.
“But when this son of yours came back — this worthless bum who squandered all of your money on booze and skanky women — you threw a big party and served steak and the very best wine!”
Then the father said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
“And 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.”
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Reflect on the fact that you — you, personally and particularly — are a beloved child of God.