On the Prodigal Son

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
March 6, 2016
The Fourth Sunday of Lent-Year C

Joshua 5:9-12
Psalm 32
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

My Friends:

785px-rembrandt_harmensz_van_rijn_-_return_of_the_prodigal_son_-_google_art_projectToday’s reading from the Gospel according to Saint Luke is my favorite from the New Testament—bar none.  I keep a bookmark with Rembrandt’s famous depiction of the reconciled father and son permanently in my Prayer Book at this morning’s Psalm 32.  And I also posted a lithograph of the forlorn younger son, seated among the pigs and husks, on my office door at Saint Mark’s School, just below a copy of an icon of Moses at the burning bush, about which we heard last Sunday.  That passage is my favorite from the Hebrew Bible—bar none!  So it has been, as they say, a “red letter” few weeks for me with our lectionary!

I resonate so deeply with these two stories and images because together, they represent the complete story of my own spiritual journey to date in a nutshell:  the one, a dramatic and sudden revelation of the Name of God, together with God’s summons to a fraught and dangerous mission in the calling of Moses; the other, the return of the prodigal to the “hesed,” the “mercy” and “steadfast love” of God’s embrace in Saint Luke’s Gospel.  In fact, I always told the students in my New Testament class that if, by some happenstance, we had had no other record of Jesus’ teachings, the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the Parable of the Good Samaritan—both unique to Saint Luke’s Gospel—together would tell us the whole Christian story of salvation in Christ.  These two parables represent the substance of Jesus’ teaching about God, humanity, and the “kingdom of God.”  Continue reading

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