Prodigal is not a word we use very often. In fact the only time I hear it is when we talk about the Bible story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15. You may remember the story Jesus tells about a son who asks for his share of his father’s inheritance–before his father even dies! Then the son leaves and goes far away wasting the money with extravagant living. Eventually the son runs out of money and is starving–even eating pig food. A horrible thing for a Jew! He decides to come home to his father ready to ask for a job as servant.
Meanwhile his father is waiting and watching. The father comes running to greet his long lost son. Then throws a grand party to welcome his lost son home.
I never thought about what “prodigal “meant. I guess I thought it had something to do with running away. When I checked the dictionary, I discovered the word “prodigal” means reckless and wastefully extravagant.
So who in the story is the prodigal? Who wastefully gives away the inheritance when he may need it to live? Who recklessly loves in spite of being abandoned? Who throws an extravagant party to welcome home his lost son? I wonder why we keep calling this story “The Prodigal Son” when the father is even more a prodigal.
And this prodigal father also abundantly loves the son who stays home. When that son complains about the party for his brother, the father replies, “You were always with me. What’s mine is yours.” Did you notice that the father is more concerned about relationship than money and inheritance?
During the season of Lent, our Scripture is like a love letter from God. The father in Jesus’ story is our heavenly Father who recklessly, wastefully, and extravagantly loves all his dear children. The children who run away AND the children who stay home and work like the older son. All ae invited to God’s extravagant banquet party—life with God. More than anything, God wants to love and be with all his children.