And he said to him (the father): "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
It was right that we should make merry and be glad,
for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found".
The parable of the "loving father" tells of a wealthy family made up of a father and two sons. One day the younger son asks his father for his share of inheritance: it is not specified if he wanted to leave the family but, the text states that, after a few days from the request, he left for a distant country, far from family ties and bonds. At first the young man lived happy moments, made of the joy of the flesh and enticements. However, as the pleasures grew, the economic resources diminished until they were completely exhausted and with them the fun.Those who had shown to him as friends in the moment of abundance abandoned him and the young man found himself only begging for a job as a pig's keeper: he wished to eat the pods of which the beasts were fed, but no one gave him. Having reached the bottom, the young man returned to himself, he thought of his father, the servants who were in his house and how they were treated and found the courage to return home. He prepared a speech to make himself welcome. The parable tells that as soon as the father saw him from afar, he ran to meet him and embraced him, kissed him, called the servants and gave orders to clean him, dress him in clothes worthy of a son and placed the ring on his finger. While in the house there is joy and celebration, the eldest son, always ready to serve his father, returns from the fields and asks to one of the servants the reason of the party. Knowing what had happened, he feels disturbed and annoyed profoundly. He refuses to take part in the party, even though his father begs him to join in his joy. The eldest son can not rejoice: he can not understand how, despite having squandered all his legacy, the fattened calf is killed for his dissolute brother. The story ends with an invitation to party.
The house of the parable is a metaphor of the community, the church: a place of joy, of welcome, where the concept "let's have a party" or "we have to celebrate" reigns over everything and everyone. In the Christian service there is the joy of belonging to God, the consolation of feeling part of His family, the happiness of knowing that we have a Father who has recovered us and that, when it happened, the angels in heaven made a feast, as always for every converted sinner. The three characters are representative of the figures involved in discipleship. The younger son, the figure of all those who have received salvation, who are part of the saints and within the community, but who have not yet matured the choice to become disciples. The elder brother may represent other servants or even disciples who have already begun a journey of service. The father can be the apostle, the oldest minister in the faith and, as such, responsible for the house. He does not use partiality with his children. When the major complains that he has never received a kid to party with friends, his father reminds him that he is at home and that he can dispose of everything, because everything belongs to him. The figure of the father speaks to us of sharing: where there is experience and maturity there is no jealousy, nor presumed superiority. In his home there is more joy in giving than in receiving, it is that house where the children have understood that what one has received is free of charge, and is given as it is received.
Weekly Bible reading plan
March 19 Joshua 1-3; Mark 16
March 20 Joshua 4-6; Luke 1: 1-20
March 21 Joshua 7-9; Luke 1: 21-38
March 22 Joshua 10-12; Luke 1: 39-56
March 23 Joshua 13-15; Luke 1: 57-80
March 24 Joshua 16-18; Luke 2: 1-24
March 25 Joshua 19-21; Luke 2: 25-52