Hopelessly Devoted: Luke Chapter Fifteen Verses Eleven Through Thirty-Two

Our intrepid podcaster has been taking a breather this past couple weeks while he’s been […]

Mockingbird / 3.5.12

Our intrepid podcaster has been taking a breather this past couple weeks while he’s been out of the country, so we thought we’d run another Hopelessly Devoted this morning. This one comes from Paul Walker, and takes as its text the Parable of the Prodigal Son, dovetailing nicely with the Forde quote from last week, as well as one of the collects for the second Sunday in Lent (below). You may read the entire parable here, the final two verses of which we’ve reproduced here:

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 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.’”

Really, there are two lost sons, equally distanced from the heart of their Father. The one son is the easy target – he’s finagled the family money out of his Father and blown it in Acapulco on cocaine and whores. For a while, as long as he was buying, he had plenty of company.

And at first, sleeping it off until 3pm in his villa on the beach, stumbling into the water to come to life, pouring the first Bloody Mary at 4pm for his eye opener in preparation for another long night of living the dream was what he’d always dreamed it would be back when he was working on his Father’s farm, under the stern and supervising eye of his older brother.

But now, he found that his mental health was running as thin as his wallet. He was a desultory combination of gaunt and bloated. Um… he thought, maybe life on his Father’s farm wasn’t so bad after all. In the words of the King James Bible, “he came to himself” and decided to “arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

The boy’s older brother, the one who does what he says and says what he does, the one who reconciled the ledger each night down to the jot and tittle was just as lost as his younger brother. His sins were interior – cold, calculating, closed up. His wrath erupted as hot as a Caribbean Sun when his lecherous, parasitic, weak-willed brother showed back up and was received like the King of Spain. How dare his Father! How dare his Father show mercy on someone like him! Doesn’t he know that this recalcitrant will eat his veal and drink his liquor and rob his silverware and be back on the road within 3 days?

The two sons start out equally distanced from their Father – they have both ‘gone astray’ as the prayer puts it. Only one ends up encircled in his Father’s arms. The other remains frozen in time out in the cold and dark of the courtyard, the party in full tilt inside, His Father pleading with him to come in and get warm.

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As a bonus, here’s a short sermon by Robert Farrar Capon on the same subject, or, as he calls it, “The Father Who Lost Two Sons,” originally posted here:


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