It is a little difficult to continue to write on this parable. It is so well known and I have been writing these reflections for Shepherds Voice for sixteen years now! Anyway, here goes. It is important when reflecting on this story that we do not reduce it to a single message. There are many aspects to this story depending upon which person we wish to focus upon and follow. Take the elder son for example. We do not usually give his character much attention but there is an important lesson to learn from him. He is both unwilling to accept his younger brother back when he returns home and he also refuses to respond to the pleas of his father to change his attitude.

 

Yes, the older brother has been wronged by the younger one, but is that a reason not to forgive? There will always be times when we wrong others and others wrong us but it does not matter what is done, forgiveness is always the only answer to the problem. There may be need for some sort of restitution as well, but the primary work of healing is the choice to forgive.

 

Secondly, we should never lose our respect for our parents even when we disagree, rightly or wrongly, with the decisions they have made. Whether we follow the desires of our parents is up to us – there are some things that they are free to have an opinion on but it is the up to us to make the decision, and for them to respect our decisions when we are adults. Of course, this is assuming that the decisions are not immoral, either theirs or ours!

 

I am sure that we can all place ourselves in the dilemmas of the elder son. I wonder what our responses through life have been when confronted with these challenges? It is easy to be judgmental when the example is written on a page; it is much more difficult to live out the principles we know are a part of our Christian calling and responsibility.

How many times have I failed to forgive those who have sinned against me? Can I still do anything to right these wrongs?

 

Holy Spirit, help me to learn how to forgive others in the way that God has forgiven all my sins.