Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The fantastical story of the prodigal son

There has been a lot of chatter about the parable of the Prodigal Son lately, and it usually ends with one group of people within the Church judging or insinuating that another group of people within the Church is a acting like the older brother.

Ouch. Nobody wants to be called the older brother. Every well-formed Christian knows themselves to be the Prodigal Son.

The truth of the matter is that I honestly don't know anyone who could rightly be identified as an older brother. The older brother was angry that his repentant younger brother was so easily forgiven by his father after squandering his inheritance. Even though his younger brother had been through hell and realized what unconditional love and joy he had rejected, the older brother could not overcome his own jealousy at the lavish feast that was prepared for his malnourished sibling.

So why would anyone identify another with such hateful behavior? I believe it stems from a deliberate twisting of scripture. Instead of reading the text in the light of the Church, our culture has become accustomed to falling into the habit of, "I'm going to find a text to support my view." In particular reference to the aforementioned trend, "Disagree with me, and I'll slam you with a biblical reference to a horrible character in one of Jesus' stories about love and redemption."

Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't we be reading great texts, the Sacred Text being the greatest, and with the wise assitance of the Church fathers and Saints, hear the beckoning of the Holy Spirit in our own lives instead of going around, thinking ourselves to be brilliantly original, and assaulting people with our new take on Scripture? When we do this, we create a fantastical story about our own agenda that becomes unrecognizable from the original form.

It's a challenge to all of us in this weird modern culture. Pray, study, contemplate. Correct when necessary, and don't fall into the habit of holy-cloaked name-calling when words fail.

No comments:

Post a Comment