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By Mireya Martinez

Luke 15:11-32 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' "`My son,' the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In looking up the definition of the word 'prodigal,' we find that it means 'excessively generous' or 'excessively wasteful' and while tradition gives the story of the Prodigal to the son (for being wasteful,) it is the story of the father, and his excessively generous love for his two sons. It isn't the story of the Prodigal is the story of the Prodigal Father! He is the main character from the minute the story begins: "A certain man had two sons..." NOT "A son comes to his father..." The father in this parable represents our Father in Heaven--who is definitely excessively generous--while the sons represent us. What we have just read is one of the best examples of God's unconditional love for His children. 1 Corinthians 13:4&7 give us some of the characteristics of love, and we are able to see these in the father in the parable of the Prodigal. Let's look at it again: Here we have this kid that comes to his dad and basically says, "Hey dad. I can't hang around until you die, so let's act like you already did and you give me my money now." For someone to make that kind of demand was considered offensive! Even in our times that is rude and highly disrespectful. But what did the father do? He gave his sons their inheritance. And here we see two of the characteristics of love. 1 Cor 13:4 Love is kind, Love is not arrogant, Love is not jealous

The father did not say: "No, you can't have it. The money is mine until I die." Instead he gave it to him...and not JUST him, the bible says he gave his other son his share, too! The very fact that the son was able to demand his inheritance shows us that his father was excessively kind, humble, and very approacheable--all characteristics of our God! The son would not have made the demand if he knew that his father was going to say no. How many times have we as children of God made a bold request and received it? How many times have we asked for something KNOWING full well that we don't deserve it? And how many times has God ANSWERED us?! Our Heavenly Father loves us without condition. The very fact that He sent His Son to die on a cross for us shows us that! Love is kind and is not arrogant.

Going back to the parable, we see that the son packs his bags, leaves, wastes all his money, and quickly finds himself homeless, hungry, and without any friends. Then it tells us that he realizes, "Hey, dad's workers are better off than me! WOW. I will go to him, apologize to him, and tell him I am not worthy to be called his son, and then tell him to make me like one of his workers. Yeah! That sounds like a good plan." (No remorse. No remorse at all.) So the kid heads back home. In the next portion of the parable, we see more characteristics of love in the father.

1 Cor 13:4 Love is patient Love doesn't brag

1 Cor 13:7 Love bears all things Love believes all things Love hopes all things Love endures all things

It tells us that while his son was still a long ways off, the father sees him and comes running to hug him and give him a kiss!!! Here we see how much the father loved his son. That he saw him and came running to him means so many things:

  1. He was patient, and knew that one day his son would return. Not only was he patient, he was WAITING for that day! He was constantly LOOKING for his son to come up that road leading to the house!
  2. Love bears and endures all things...the father gave his son his money, most likely knowing that he would spend it foolishly, and still sat back and watched it happen. Notice he didn't judge, or scold, or lecture. He gave him the money and then sat back and waited for his child to return. That is LOVE...he let his son go and figure it out on his own!
  3. Love hopes all things. The father, all along, had hope and faith that he would see his son again! Otherwise he wouldn't have been waiting for him.
The next thing we see as the parable unfolds is that while the kid is giving his little speech, the father interrupts him, and tells his servants to get the best robe and the family ring and to kill a calf so they can all eat and be happy! This son of his was dead, but now is alive...he was lost, but has been found. One MAJOR point we have to realize is this: the son never got to the part in his speech where he tells his father to make him a servant. The father didn't let him finish. He loved him so much all he could think of was to rejoice and be glad. Love does not brag. He did not start with the "I told you so's" or "I knew this was going to happen" NO. He accepted him back with unconditional love, and had a party!!! How many times have we parted ourselves from our Heavenly Father, and when we are at our worst, come crying back? How many? And how many times has God turned away from us when we come back? NONE. He is always there, like the father in the parable...waiting to see us coming up the road. And not only is He there....we find that He runs to meet us, and wraps us in His warm embrace exploding with His unconditional love for us!


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