Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Parable Of The Prodigal Son: Justice, Mercy, And Humility

Bible Study 1 (092723)

I spoke at last Wednesday night's Bible study and dinner that my wife and I host for students, staff, and faculty. I talked about two of my favorite passages in Scripture: Micah 6:8 ("[W]hat does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.") and the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

I used the three characters in the parable to illustrate God's view of justice, mercy, and humility. The younger (“bad”) son broke the rules and was humbled by hitting rock bottom, before returning home and receiving his father’s mercy and love. The older (“good”) son kept all of the rules and was humbled by realizing that did not make him any more deserving of his father’s love than his brother. To me, the main character in the parable is the father, who represents both our earthly fathers and our Father in heaven. All earthly fathers and mothers fall well short of being the parents their children deserve, just as all sons and daughters fall short in living out the fifth commandment ("Honor your father and mother"). 

I ended my message by talking about the sudden death of my 82-year old father in 2007. I am so grateful that, a few years earlier, I had taken separate trips to JH Ranch in northern California with my son and daughter when they were 13 years old for a week-long program (video) to help prepare them for adulthood. I got as much or more out of the program as they did. During each of the weeks, the ranch gathered the Dads and had us write letters to our fathers, apologizing for the mistakes we had made growing up and thanking them for all they had done for us. It means the world to me that after my father's death, I learned he had kept the two letters I wrote to him near his favorite chair in the living room.

I closed my remarks by offering everyone pens, stationery, stamped envelopes, and clipboards so they could write letters to their fathers or mothers. I was thrilled when they all took me up on the offer:

Bible Study 2 (092723)

It was a treat the next morning to mail the letters to parents around the country:

Bible Study 3 (092723)

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