The Son is allowed to leave
The parable begins, “A certain man had two sons.”
The younger son was wild and rebellious. He wasn’t content to plod along, day after day, doing his chores and helping run the family farm. He wanted to get away, see the sights, experience for himself all that the world had to offer. And so, one day he went up to his dad and said, “Father, give me my share of your property.” (12)
Now, there were three things wrong with this request. First, to ask for his inheritance before his father died was a slap in the face. It was as if he were saying, “I wish you were dead.”
Second, by asking for his inheritance now, he was separating himself from his brother. The farm would have to be divided, and, obviously, he intended to sell his part of the property. So much for the father’s dream that his two sons would keep the family farm intact and work the land together. And third, to ask for his inheritance at this point was to break the rules of social etiquette and subject the whole family, especially the father, to ridicule.
Be that as it may, the younger son asked his father for his share of the property, and it was such an unusual request, and so out of line, you would have thought that the father would have simply said no. Instead, the father did what the son asked; he divided his property between his two sons. According to Jewish law, the older son got two-thirds, the younger son got one-third.
Once the property was divided, the younger son sold his part of the property and took the money and left home. He was off to see the world.
Before we go on, let me just make a quick point: We all have this tendency to be our own worst enemies. As often as not, we suffer not from disasters or undue hardships, but by our own bad choices. “The wrath of God is not that we get what we deserve, but that we get what we choose.” The younger son was determined to exercise his freedom, and, as painful as it must have been for his father to go along, he refused to stand in his way. He gave him what he asked for.
The love of the Father embraces not just the return of the son, but also, the leaving of his child. That’s really important: the whole movement done under the loving eyes of the father. The father does not say, “Do Not Go!”. No, the law does not come from the father. Law is not the spirit of the story! The spirit of the story is; “Yes, son, go. And you will be hurt and it will be hard and it will be painful. And you might even lose your life, but I can’t hold you from taking the risk. And when you come back, I am here for you, just as I am also here for you now.
Saints, in a very deep way, we in our lives, are always leaving and returning. It is not just a one-time event; it is an ongoing experience. So, tonight, let the Holy Spirit invite us into our leavings and returning’s to the Father in Heaven. I believe that in a very deep sense, one has to be convinced of God’s love in order to take the risk of leaving once in a while. There are moments when you may want to take a step back and go off for a while, and then come back. Please consider that God loves you as a person who’s leaving and returning. Please try to believe God awaits your return.
Ps 34:4- “I sought the Lord and He answered me…”
I hope that, whenever you hear this parable, you’ll hear it as a parable that speaks of God’s grace and forgiveness and unconditional love, both for sinners in need of repentance and for the righteous, who are steadfast and faithful in their devotion to God.