Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Unrewarded? ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Unrewarded? ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

For a number of years, I related the biblical parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32) to my life in a negative way. A loved family member was the female equivalent of the prodigal son, and I, the faithful son who stayed home - or so it seemed to me.

When her version of "riotous living" was over, despite the disruption that her activity had caused, another family member offered her a week-long trip to Florida.

While I couldn't have gone anyway because of other commitments, I justified the resentment I felt. After all the months of anguish she had put our family through, why should she be rewarded with a trip to Florida?

The father's warm welcome of the prodigal after he had "wasted his substance with riotous living" seemed to me to leave the prodigal's brother wondering where he fit in with his father's love.

He had asked nothing from his father in the way of his inheritance but had remained faithful to his father's perceptions of a good son's demeanor.

Hadn't I done the same? For a considerable period of time, I brooded about what I thought of as the "unfair" parable, its message eluding me.

I knew there had to be an explanation that would satisfy me. Indeed, during the intervening years I had read or heard how an understanding of this parable had helped others. But I remained resistant rather than receptive to any rationale for the father's perceived partiality. Instead, I accepted the story on faith but without the comfort of knowing what its message was for me.

I finally realized that it was time to open my thought to this parable's spiritual significance. One day soon after that, like the final piece fitting into a puzzle, I suddenly got it. The simplicity of the answer surprised me, and I didn't see how I could have missed it for so long.

What came to me was that the father whom Jesus referred to in the parable represented God. …

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