Thoughts From a Parable

Yesterday, I offered the reflection at the law school’s Weekly Manna gathering. I decided to use as a basis for my remarks a parable contained in Peter Rollins’ The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales, a book I’ve mentioned before. Rollins presents a number of short parables in the book (although he uses the term “tales” rather than “parables” to describe the short stories he presents), each with its own commentary that invites further reflection by the reader. Many of those tales are based on actual Gospel accounts and parables.

The one I picked for yesterday’s reflection was a short tale title The Unrepentant Son which, as you might guess, is based on the Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Most of the story is consistent with the Gospel account of this parable, although there is no mention of the older son. After the description of the father’s welcome and the ensuing party, the parable contains a final paragraph of a single sentence: “Later that night, after the party, while he was alone, the younger son wept with sorrow and repented for the life he had led.”

My reflection offered two points one tied to the story itself, relating to the order in which forgiveness and repentance come. While we so often demand repentance as the price of our forgiveness, God models a forgiveness that is not contingent. (This is a theme that emerged during the Fall Retreat Series we did earlier this year.) The second was an invitation to pray with what happens at the end of the fragments of accounts we hear in the Gospels, which included a brief description of Ignatian contemplation.

You can access a recording of my talk here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 16:50.)