“The Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.'”

So Jesus told them a few stories, about things that were lost and then found, about a boy who got a little lost then found himself, came to his sense, as it were, and was welcomed back to the fold by a fond father, and finally about another who was never lost but lost himself in grumbling.

We get the point. Don’t we?

Then why do we still call the story, “The Prodigal Son”? Prodigal means spendthrift, wastrel, wasteful, reckless. There are no positive synonyms for prodigal.

So instead of focusing on the outcome of the story, about the story Jesus tells the Pharisees about themselves, the elder sons lost in grumbling, we lose ourselves in, well, grumbling. We continue to define the younger boy by the actions of which he has already repented, instead of delighting in the way that he turned himself around.

And thus and so, by our use of language, by using the title to  perpetuate the cycle, we continue to identify with the grumblers, and show ourselves in need of hearing the story one more time.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
This entry was posted in sermon preparation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Prodigal

  1. heidiannie says:

    So we should call it the wise and repentant son.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s