picture of a father welcoming the prodigal son home

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

The Gospel of Luke contains the parable of the prodigal son.

The religious authorities of Jesus’ day, the scribes and pharisees, are complaining that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.

Jesus tells a parable (or story) of a man with two sons.

One of the sons, the younger one, asks his father for his share of the inheritance.

The father gives his son that share and the son leaves home for a foreign country.

The younger son spends all of the inheritance, wasting it on a carefree lifestyle.

Then, the cares hit the son – he has no money, no food, no place to live.

The son works as a hired man for a local farmer and feeds the pigs. The Jews treated pigs as “unclean” – unworthy to eat or even have – and here the younger son has fallen so far away, that he is feeding the pigs.

The son comes to his senses, remembers his father’s home where his father gave those workers all they needed to eat and more.

The son decides to return home, apologize to his father and ask to be treated like a hired worker.

The son’s father sees his son coming home, even when the son is a long way off.

The father runs out to greet his son, embrace him, kiss him and welcome him home. The father restores his son back to his status in the family.

Then, the elder son confronts his father, complaining about his father’s generosity.

The father explains how the family must celebrate the son’s return, no longer lost, but found. No longer dead, but alive.

The Gospel Account

You can find the story of the parable of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 1-3, 11-32.

Click on this link to view the Gospel passage using the New American Bible translation.

The Five Decades

When you pray the five decades of this Rosary Reflection, use these five scenes from the Gospel.

First Decade: The younger son asks his father for his share of his inheritance and the father gives it to him.

Second Decade: The younger son leaves home and wastes his entire fortune, and falls into servitude in a foreign land.

Third Decade: The younger son comes to his senses and returns home to his father.

Fourth Decade: The father welcomes his son back with open arms and restores him to full status as a son.

Fifth Decade: The father counsels the elder son to celebrate with him that his brother is found and brought back to live.

What to Remember

This Gospel story depicts God as the father who welcomes sinners back and prepares a feast for them.

As followers of Jesus, God calls us to be like that father – waiting, watching and welcoming our “lost” brothers and sister home.

Instead of judging and separating ourselves from those who change directions in their lives, we become living examples of God’s mercy and goodness.

When you ask God for the grace to love as God does, God will give you the grace to show mercy and love to those who need it most.

Here are a few intentions to pray for:

For a greater openness to God’s gardening methods in our lives.

That all Catholic parishes and Christian churches will become a place of welcome and celebration for those who are separated or lost.

For family and friends who are alienated from their families or from God’s love.

That society will become a place of reconciliation, forgiveness and celebrating the value of every human being.

Feel free to pray the rosary using the Gospel when you want to experience God’s love and celebrating you, when you away from sin and towards the fullness of life God has for you.

When This Gospel Appears

Luke’s Gospel account of the Parable Son occurs on the Fourth Sunday of Lent in Cycle C of the Liturgical Year.

The most recent appearance is on Sunday, March 32, 2019.

There are three cycles that last a year each, beginning with the First Sunday in Advent in the Church year.

In Cycle A, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Matthew.

For Cycle B, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Mark and John.

In Cycle C, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Luke.

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