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The parable of the lost son


Lk 15:1-3, 11-32


So to them Jesus addressed this parable. “A man had two sons,  and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. … Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son… became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ ”


He was lost and has been found. The parable mirrors the compassionate love of the heavenly Father. The father does not disown his younger son who left home and squandered his inheritance in a life of dissipation and worldly pleasure.

With his return, the younger son has found the right direction in life; he has found his true self; he has come to his senses (v 17).

For the father, this calls for a celebration. A lost son must be welcomed back home with joy, not with anger as the older son did.

What is my attitude toward those whom society considers  as “sinners”? Jesus says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7).

Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” St. Pauls Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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  • Bullet Train

    Good job Manila Bulletin for having sections like this!

  • sfla

    I believe the parable is more about the second son who rejected the idea of the fathers forgiveness for the son that went astray.

    I’d compare the first son that went astray to all the gentiles of the world who when they realize how desperate they are without God finally turn to him and realize that he always loved them, even when they were in sin.

    I’d compare the second son to the Scribes and Pharisees who think that their salvation is in the law. Remember that he even boasts to his father that he has kept all the rules and followed all the laws.

    By depending upon his own ability to put on righteousness by following the law he is rejecting the freedom from condemnation that only comes when we accept Christ who God the Father gave to this world for the forgiveness of our sins.

    For me, I believe that there is nothing but condemnation to all that depend on following the law for the forgiveness of sin. Likewise I know without a shred of doubt that because I have accepted Christ I am forgiven and will one day I will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.