I reflect on Jesus’ famous parable, often called the “prodigal son” in my December 12, 2010 sermon—the tenth in my series on Luke’s Gospel.
Importantly, we should notice that Jesus’ story begins with “there was a man who had two sons” (Luke 15:11). The focus is on the father and both sons. The story doesn’t end with the younger son’s return. Rather, the story ends with the father’s unanswered plea to the older son to join in the party celebrating the return of his brother.
I approach the story in the light of big questions we have in today’s world about why so many people in our American society are so accepting of violence. I suggest one big issue is our metaphysics (our views of “what is” and “what it’s like”). I counter pose a metaphysics of redemptive violence with a metaphysics of mercy.
Jesus affirms a metaphysics of mercy—he tells his powerful story of the two sons in response to “grumbling” from religious leaders about his merciful ways (that reflect his understanding of reality as “mercy all the way down”).