The editorial bar introduces this gospel as the “Parable of the Lost Son” instead of the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” perhaps because the word “prodigal” has gone of usage or perhaps because the son now lost to the Father is the son who stayed home all along. But then, like every good parable, there is no ending to the story so we have no idea whether he goes in to the feast at his Father’s special invitation.

When we are in love we can become recklessly extravagant towards the beloved with gifts, food, entertainment, jewelry, wine, rings, clothes, our inmost self, our time. We do not think of the cost. For love, we have even made foolish mistakes. Or do we? This is the father in the parable. Who of us have not waited for a lover to return, a child to come back home, a friend rediscovered after years of absence? If there is any prodigal part of the story, it the Father in his reckless love.

Each of the sons is rebellious in his own way, which in some ways places each on the extremes of a spectrum of love. Yet the Father is extravagant in the breathe and scope of his forgiveness. He pleads with the older brother. His argument? The great value in reconciliation.

Our own families are so often just like this family portrayed by Jesus. I see the rifts particularly at funerals. There’s so much need of reconciliation, when I see the sheer greed for the inheritance be first and foremost in the hearts and minds of one adult child or another.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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