Excerpted from: http://godzdogz.op.org/
"...We learn how to relate ourselves to God through relating to other people, and our families are the original theatres where that particular drama of ourselves is first played out. Family stories understandably fascinate us, as a casual survey of soap operas and popular fiction will readily confirm. Hence the enduring poignancy of Luke’s account of a dysfunctional family in the parable of the prodigal in today’s gospel.
Luke’s narrative is powerful and has many resonances in human culture. I am inescapably reminded of Rembrandt’s famous portrait of the returning younger son kneeling in front of his father – one of the most powerful images of God’s compassion. Yet half of the text deals with the elder son. We discover through the narrative that he, too, has been alienated from his father, perhaps for longer, he has ‘slaved’ for his father for years, obeying grudgingly, never feeling rewarded. And he deeply resents his father’s joy at his brother's return, not seeing that he also is loved by his father – as Luke brilliantly depicts when he has the father go out to him, sulking in the field, to comfort him. This part of the story is a sad comment by Jesus on the Pharisees’ refusal to accept that the gospel, the good news, is extended to the outcast, to the lost. Precisely that is the challenge for us now: do we reach out to embrace the lost, or do we resent their demands on us and turn away?