I wake up this morning to find a guy I know, a nice guy, shared the following.
Jesus told the story of the prodigal son to make a simple point: Never mind what you’ve done, just come home.
This is attributed to Scott Hahn.
Now that message is not antithetical to the message Jesus meant to convey but it’s not the reason he told the story.
The story of the prodigal son is framed by two parallel stories. The first story is built on this conflict,
And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.
The second story is built on a very similar conflict,
But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.
But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him.
Here is why he told the story—to convey to us that he came to love and celebrate people that we’d rather not be loved and celebrated by him. The key line is when the elder tells refers to his brother as “this son of yours” when talking to his father. The point is not that Jesus will welcome back repentant sinners, although he will, but that we should welcome back repentant sinners for they are our brothers.
Notice how different this sentiment is from the self-serving sentimental tripe the quote attributed to Scott Hahn above peddles. (I’m holding out hope that Hahn, whom I respect, didn’t actually say this.)
BTW: Facebook, where this quote was originally shared, tends to bring this sort of sentimental tripe out in us. It doesn’t create. It’s our fault but Facebook definitely facilitates it.