Luke 15.33f – a Lenten reflection

Luke concludes the Parable of the Prodigals at chapter 15, verse 32 with the father’s continuing plea to his elder son to accept the return of their younger son and brother: “We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life.”

Much is unresolved. Something else is alive and unwell. Sibling animosity. The reckless younger brother, through the father’s unconditional forgiveness, has been restored in family favor with all rights and privileges and with no accountability demanded of him. The reliable elder brother bears the double burden of his younger brother’s disdain for responsibility and his father’s seeming indifference to his lifelong diligence and dependability (“Father, for all these years I have worked like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command”).

The father, loving his sons, is the bond that ties the brothers together (or the buffer that shields them from each other!). But what next? One day, the father will die, leaving the brothers to fend for themselves. Thinking of other biblical brothers with stormy relationships (Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob), what will these two do?

Midrash is Judaism’s interpretative methodology, employing creative imagination guided by textual analysis where biblical “blanks” and “gaps” exist, when the scriptural narrative is silent or shines only the faintest light of meaning.

In that spirit, I invite you, dear readers, to go beyond where Luke stopped. Calling it Luke 15.33f, please write “the rest of the story.” How do you imagine the end of the Parable of the Prodigals?

4 thoughts on “Luke 15.33f – a Lenten reflection

  1. Ahhhhh sibling animosity Paul!! What an assignment!!

    Luke 15.33f

    After years of having the same quarrel over maturity, responsibility and work ethic issues, the two brothers finally came together on the same land they’d fought on and over.

    As their father lay in the bed, too sick to continue to work, the brothers decide to come together on the land that tore them apart to become the family their father wanted them to be. Each brother now had a wife and two sons, all of whom had high hopes for this reconciliation… All having grown tired of the “bickering brothers”. The brothers spoke few words at first, but their embrace was forgiving of all previous hurts and sins.

    After lots of discussion, each son agreed to take on roles on the land that suited their strengths and shared their news with their father on his sick bed.

    The father delighted in his daughters-in-law and his grandsons and thanked them all for getting his sons back together before his death. All pledged to stick together in sickness and in health, poverty and wealth as they would all live out their days on the family land.

    The father knew that the brothers had grown to love and respect each other enough to make their relationship work. Neither claimed that it would be easy, as relationships are hard. But they would work daily to be and become the men God would want them to be, because even through conflict, family is all we have.


  2. Paul, I admire your desire to spread the prodigal-ness all around the family, and Loretta, your model does bring up possibilities for the next generation. Are you familiar with the ballet of the Prodigal Son by Prokofiev? It centers on the traditional father/son dynamic. You can search for Prodigal Son ballet Barishnikov and find four segments on youtube. They are all beautiful, but the finale is heart-wrenching. Do watch it when you have a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

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