This week, we’re reading through the second half of the Gospel of Luke. You’ll read about some familiar miracles, some well-known miracles, and the Gospel will culminate with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus – the very events we celebrated just a week ago. But in the midst of these, there are two stories that I think are worth paying particular attention to as you read. Those stories are the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Both of these stories say some significant things about God and about us.
In Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, I don’t think we appreciate just how insulting the younger son’s ask for his inheritance actually is. Essentially, he’s saying to his father “I have no further use for you… I wish you were dead so I could get what’s coming to me.” That wouldn’t go over well today either, but in the first century that sort of a request was more likely to get you disowned than anything else. And yet, the father gives the son his inheritance. And then the father waits, and waits, and waits… what could have been months or years until the son, in utter desperation, returned and his father celebrated him home. It may be obvious to you that in this parable God is the father and we the son(s), and it is God who is ready and willing to celebrate us home when we find ourselves far off, having squandered our inheritances. (If we happen to be the one who remains at the Father’s side, we ought to remember that there is far more joy, peace, and fulfilment with Him than there is in the “far-off country.”)
We can also see ourselves in the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two, having heard the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection find themselves despondent and, in turn, heading for home after the extraordinary events they had witnessed. But the way in which Jesus responds to them is the way in which Jesus deals with each of us. He doesn’t come to them, explaining everything they would need to know in an instant. Instead, He walks with them, listening to them and asking questions. Then He explains to them the parts of His story they didn’t understand. Finally, He reveals Himself to them in the breaking of the bread. You may here echoes of the Mass here, given that this story takes place on the same day as the resurrection (Sunday), and that Jesus teaches them the Word and then shares the Eucharist with them.
With those two stories in mind, here are your readings for the coming week: