A Loving Joke from Jesus

Luke 15:11-32 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Lost Son

prodigal_son11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. (What! No Mom, Divorced, Deceased?) 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’  (There is no share for the youngest since all the property goes to the eldest.) So he divided his property between them. (Dad’s first loving mistake, or is it?)

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country (two miles away, just to be safe) and there squandered his wealth in wild living. (Never defined, but we guess he had a good time of it.) 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, (a Republican was elected) and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. (Pigs!) He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (Pigs! Jewish! Together? Pause for laughter or aghastment. And, he’s still waiting to be waited on.)

17 “When he came to his senses, (Hunger has a way of doing that) he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! (It’s only been one day…but still.) 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20  (Practice your speech again and again. Now try it in front of a mirror and see how convincing you are.) So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Dad doesn’t wait for his contrived speech.)

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (Well, okay, he got part of it out, but still…)

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf (“And not the pig!”) and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Dad ignores hearing about his “wild living” and its sordid details and does what only a Loving God and insightful dad would do.)

25 “Meanwhile, (Here’s the cool part of the story that I love,) the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. (A  Donna Summer mix with a bit of Mariah Cariah) 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. (These two kids only move when necessary.) So his father went out and pleaded with him. (Dad, again initiates the contact). 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes (Stop reading! “Prostitutes!” Who said anything about the ‘ladies of the night’ in this story? Where’s his mind?) comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ (Dad’s thinking, “Yada, yada, yada…get it out and move on.”)

31 “‘My son,’ (You dumb turkey) the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. (Minus half.) 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

And so ends one of the greatest stories of God’s limitless wisdom, forgiveness and hope coupled with our foolish and wimical errors. God’s undying love, like a father’s devotion, far outweighs our thoughtless and dopey sins.

Jesus tells us a joke about a a serious matter. Are we able to laugh all the way to God’s forgiveness and reunion?

(Thanks to Rev. Michael Himes for the inspiration.)

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available in paperback or Kindle
on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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