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The prodigal son


adds to the first one and tells about the other side of salvation — the voluntary return of a man to his Heavenly Father. While the first parable shows the Savior looking for the sinful man in order to help him, the second parable tells about the moral effort of a man required for reunion with God.

"A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Lk. 15:11-24).

The parable of the lost son points out the peculiar features of a sinner’s life. A man, captivated by earthly pleasures, after many errors and falls, finally ‘comes to himself’; he begins to understand the emptiness and filth of his life and decides to come back to God in repentance. Psychologically, this parable is very life-like. The lost son could only value the happiness of being with his father after suffering much far from him. In exactly the same way many people start to appreciate their communion with God only after they have sincerely felt the falsity and aimlessness of their lives. From this standpoint, this parable truly reveals the positive aspect of worldly sorrows and failures. The lost son may never have ‘come to himself’ if misery and starvation had not made him sober.

God’s love for fallen people is also depicted in this parable by the figure of the suffering father, who goes out to the road every day in the hope to see his son coming back. Both the parable of the lost sheep and that of the lost son tell how important and significant it is to God for a man to be saved. The ending of the parable of the lost son, omitted here, tells how indignant the elder brother is when the father forgives his younger brother. The elder brother is Christ’s depiction of the envious Judaic scribes. On the one hand, they despised sinners (tax collectors, whores and the like) and abhorred any communion with them, but on the other, they were outraged that Christ mixed with them and helped them to take the right way.

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