Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 15:1-32 A Lesson in Forgiveness
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Luke 15:1-32 A Lesson in Forgiveness

This reading includes the well-known parable of the prodigal son, in which a father forgives his sonís waywardness and welcomes the son back into the family. Remarkably, the father runs to his son to embrace and kiss him, which violates the cultural norm of the day. People expect a patriarch to assume a regal attitude, walking slowly and erect. Further, the father should rebuke his sinful son, yet instead the father risks his reputation in order to show his love and forgiveness.
The father also forgives his elder son, who, having served the father with loyalty, rebukes the father for celebrating the return of the son. The father reminds the elder son of his bond to his son and that the elder son will still gain his rightful inheritance.
This story has parallels with Jesusí return after the resurrection, in which Jesus greets those who had betrayed him with warmth and friendship, saying, ďPeace be with you.Ē Our natural desire for self-esteem discourages us from forgiving those who have offended or hurt us, but Christian teachings calls for forgiveness. We canít avoid intentionally or unintentionally offending each other, and without forgiveness our anger and hostility can divide communities. Jesus tried to show us how to build and maintain communities with love rather than have people unified by their common contempt for scapegoats. Forgiveness is crucial to that program.

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