Edgar Degas The Conversation woman dressed in red talking with man over papers

Reflecting on Luke 15 11-24

This week, we are once again thinking about the parable of “the prodigal son,” Luke 15:11-32.

The word “prodigal,” by the way, means “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure,” according to the dictionary online. Just in case we were thinking it meant something like “rebellious,” or “willful,” or any one of the [wrong!!] things we might think it means from the context in which we probably learned the word – namely, this story. [Sorry, something in print has triggered my Word Police Vexation Response. Where have all the copy editors gone??]

Some notes on the text are here, and some questions are here from the last time we spent time with this text – these still seem like good questions to me. But, then again, there are probably always more questions. This time, I got to thinking about the Younger Son:

Would we say he has “repented”? Why, or why not?

Would we say he has “remorse” or “contrition”? Why, or why not?

Would we say he is “deserving”? Or, “undeserving”? Why do we say that?

Do we have an opinion, or opinions, about his motives for coming back home? What are those? Where have we gotten those from? [The text? Our knowledge of human nature? … ]

Do we have an opinion, or opinions, about his character? Do we think we would like him? Why, or why not?

We might think “the man” in the story, “the father,” is supposed to make us think of God, and of how God is. If so, and in light of what we think about the Younger Son … how does this picture fit with the way we think about God at other times?

What do we like about this picture of God? What do we dislike about it? What appeals to us, and what troubles us? Why that, do we suppose?

[And in light of all that, I suppose I would still run and welcome a child of mine who used the word “prodigal” wrong in a sentence … but knowing me, I’d probably want to have a chat about that in the morning after the party …]

Degas painting of woman in red hat and man in conversation over papers on a table

Image: “The Conversation,” Edgar Degas, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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