My Lost Son....
Sun, Mar 6, 2016


(LK 15:1-3, 11b-32)

                How many of you have children?  I have 2 sons – and even though they’re brothers, they couldn’t be more different from one another.

                Our first son was born shortly after my wife and I were married.  He was a hearty child, early on showing us that he would, in all likelihood, be a hard working and strong man some day, wanting to go and work in the fields alongside of me almost as soon as he could walk.

                It was a number of years before our second son was born … we had even begun to wonder if we would have other children.  And when he was born, it was soon apparent that he was different than his big brother.  Oh, there was the family resemblance to be certain, but he did not possess the size and strength of his older brother, noticeably so, even as a young child.  His was also a very difficult birth, and bringing our younger son into the world was the last thing my wife did in her life, leaving me to raise them both on my own, with the help of my extended family and a few close friends.  I did the best I could … but I sometimes wonder if I could have possibly done better.

                Our eldest son did, indeed, grow up to become a strong, hard working young man, doing everything he could do and that I asked of him in helping with our family’s needs.  However, his younger brother has proven to be less … reliable, shall we say, preferring to rather spend most of his time with his friends, exploring the wares of the merchants in the marketplace - often indulging in the food and wine they offer there, with no apparent concern for the cost, or how much time he was wasting.

                And so it really came as no surprise to me when my younger son came to me one day, demanding his share of the family property.  I suppose I should have told him no, rather insisting that he become more involved in supporting our family by working in the fields with his brother and me … but being our youngest, and never having had a mother, I have often found myself giving in to his demands, even against my better judgment.  And so, I gave him his share of the property, and in a matter of days – he was gone, heading off to … live his life, however and wherever he might choose.

                At first, life without my younger son was really no different than when he was here – seeing as he really wasn’t much help.  And although I sensed his older brother was resentful at first, I think he was actually glad that his little brother was gone, not having to constantly watch him and his friends wasting their lives away.

                Then, one day, when I had gone to Jerusalem and was walking near the Temple, a crowd brought a woman, who had been caught in the act of adultery, to the Temple steps and threw her on the ground before a man, asking him “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you say?”  And the man said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

                As I watched to see how the crowd would react, one by one, they dropped their stones to the ground, and went their way.  And then the man asked the woman, ‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She answered “No one sir,” to which he replied “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on, do not sin again.” …..  Never before had I witnessed such kindness and forgiveness of someone who was, indeed, guilty of doing wrong according to the Law of Moses.  I later found out that the man’s name was Jesus … a teacher and healer – from Nazareth of all places!  Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

                Soon, thereafter, a great drought came to our land … and as we struggled to keep our crops and animals growing and alive, I couldn’t help but wonder how my younger son was doing.  And then, suddenly – there he was … standing before me!  He was dressed in scarcely more than rags, and he was so thin I almost didn’t recognize him.  He threw himself at my feet, begging for forgiveness for having squandered his inheritance, saying he was no longer worthy to be called my son, asking me to treat him as one of our servants … and I found myself remembering that moment on the Temple steps, with the woman at Jesus’ feet, and the love and forgiveness he showed her.

                So I pulled my son to his feet, embraced him, ordered our servants to bring him fresh clothes to wear, and to prepare a welcoming feast – for as far as I knew, this son was dead …  but here he was, home and alive!

                When my older son learned of his younger brother’s return, and my welcoming of him, he was furious!  He yelled “How long have I worked for you – and have you ever given a feast for me and my friends?!”  I tried to explain to him why I was giving his brother a welcoming feast, in spite of his having squandered his portion of the family inheritance – we were celebrating that he was alive, and had returned home, humbly begging for forgiveness for what he had done.  But his brother would not listen, and stormed off.  …..

                It is good to have my young son home … but has he really had a change of heart?  And what can I do to help his brother understand that we must love and be willing to forgive his brother for the wrongs he has done, because we are family … and that’s what families do.

                My hope and prayer is that God will bring a true change of heart to both of my sons.  And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a feast to finish preparing for … you’re more than welcome to join us if you would like!