Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Father's Forgiveness





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_%28Rembrandt%29

This is one of the most brilliant of all Christ's parables, and is recognized to be a profound revelation of forgiveness, told in a most incomparable style of tenderness. 

The episode of the elder son is no less revealing than the departure and return of the younger son. This is the divine friendship, the incomparable revelation of this parable.  

We learn first about the Father in His relation with sinners: A father so tenderly accepts, and defends the younger son who left the family, squandered the inheritance (what man is so loving?) 

Even the best of fathers is rare. Who is able to be this forgiving? A father with this much love, this much unconditional love, and who also  forgives? 

The heart of man is far less paternal than the heart of God!
 
Christ is making a second point: If the father has experienced an exuberant joy for the younger son who has withdrawn, returned and repented, the father feels no less for the eldest son whom he has kept always with him, and whom he desires to share much more than a day's feast.
 
Are we not moved to the heart by the son's repentance, but more touched by the Father's forgiveness?  


My friend, it is difficult, almost impossible, to believe that we are so deeply loved by the Father in Heaven. 
(AL)
Luke 15:16-32
11 And He said, 
"A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:
for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
Image:Rembrandt ~ Return of the Prodigal Son
Dutch priest Henri Nouwen (1932–1996) was so taken by the painting that he eventually wrote a short book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (1992), using the parable and Rembrandt's painting as frameworks. Considering the role of the father and sons in the parable in relation to Rembrandt's biography, he wrote:
Rembrandt is as much the elder son of the parable as he is the younger. When, during the last years of his life, he painted both sons in Return of the Prodigal Son, he had lived a life in which neither the lostness of the younger son nor the lostness of the elder son was alien to him. Both needed healing and forgiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father. But from the story itself, as well as from Rembrandt's painting, it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed home.


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