The parable of the man who had two sons
Last Sunday (6 March 2016 ) our Gospel reading (Luke 15:11-32) was one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament – the parable of the Prodigal Son, or The Loving Father. More correctly and helpfully it is known as the parable of the man who had two sons.
Stories of two sons feature prominently in the Hebrew Scriptures (Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau), so I’m sure there would be much interest when Jesus decided to “have a go” at the Two Son story. As modern scholars have pointed out, the Oriental Story-teller assumed background knowledge in his hearers – they all knew what was accepted behaviour for the characters in the story – so the interest comes when someone departs from this accepted behaviour.
Part of the skill of Jesus’ story telling also lies in the invitation to place ourselves in the story as different characters – the younger son, the older son, the father, a household member – and to experience what the story can bring to us if we let our spiritual imagination work!
This parable is a gift that goes on giving!