It occurred to me that the prodigal was not all cleaned up when he returned to his father. He was a filthy mess. He was tattered. He reeked. His intention was to ask his father to be treated like a hired hand. Yet, his father ran to greet him, embraced him, and kissed him. Then, the father had the best robe brought to him and sandals for his feet. And, a ring for his finger! How extravagant. And, then the fatted calf was ordered to be slaughtered to celebrate the return of the penitent son. More extravagance. The prodigal’s father, an example of our Lord. Oh, to be like the prodigal: ready to be penitent. Oh, to be like the prodigal’s father–accepting and embracing of the one who fed the pigs? “Oh no!” I fear I have been more like the non-prodigal. I pondered and then I composed the following. Pods for thought.
The prodigal, the father, and the non-prodigal.
He assuredly stunk, the prodigal.
He had fed the pigs and pined for the pods.
He had been foolish.
He had demanded his inheritance.
He had gone to a faraway land.
He had spent his inheritance on sensuous pursuits.
Then: money spent, famine came, dire desperation.
He found a “job” feeding swine.
The filth, the smell, the revolt.
Then, an “aha” moment.
He could go to his father and beg to become a hired hand.
“I will admit I sinned and am no longer a son.”
His father’s servants had food to spare.
“Yes, I will become like one hired.”
So, off he went toward home.
He was still far away when his father saw him.
His father ran to him.
Such an undignified response.
Such love and compassion.
Reaching his son, the father embraced and kissed him.
The son: tainted, filthy, and reeking.
“Bring a robe, bring a ring, and kill the fatted calf!”
“My son was dead and now is alive!”
His father was elated and loved him.
“He called me his son.”
“He embraced me in my stench and filth.”
“Me, the demanding prodigal.”
“He put a robe on me.”
“A ring on my finger.”
“He said, ‘Kill the fatted calf!’”
“I am a filthy, degraded mess.”
“Yet, he called me his son.”
“The one who was lost is found.”
“The one who was dead and is now alive.”
“What manner of love is this?!”
And there was celebration.
The older son heard the commotion.
“What is going on?!”
Then, the non-prodigal erupted with anger.
“This son of yours wasted himself with prostitutes and sensuality!”
“I will not go in!”
The non-prodigal had lost nothing.
And he resented the father and the prodigal.
Like Christians who shoot the wounded.
The non-prodigal unloaded his gun.