Luke 15

Salvation—Joy and Torment of God[a]

Chapter 15

This Man Receives Sinners.[b] 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus, 2 and the Pharisees and the scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

The Parable of the Lost Sheep.[c] 3 Therefore, he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, if you have a hundred sheep and lose one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he does find it, he lays it on his shoulders joyfully. 6 Then, when he returns home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin.[d] 8 “Or again, what woman who has ten silver coins[e] and loses one will not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching thoroughly until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I lost.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

11 The Parable of the Lost (or Prodigal) Son.[f] Then he said: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that I will inherit.’ And so the father divided the property between them.

13 “A few days later the younger son gathered together everything he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissolute living. 14 When he had spent it all, a severe famine afflicted that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who sent him to his farm to feed the pigs.[g] 16 He would have willingly filled his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “Then he came to his senses and said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more food than they can consume, while here I am, dying of hunger. 18 I will depart from this place and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me like one of your hired workers.” ’

20 “So he set out for his father’s house. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the finest robe we have and put it on him. Place a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast. 24 For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life. He was lost, and now he has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now the elder son had been out in the fields, and as he returned and drew near the house, he could hear the sounds of music and dancing. 26 He summoned one of the servants and inquired what all this meant. 27 The servant replied, ‘Your brother has come home, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 The elder son then became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him, 29 but he said to his father in reply, ‘All these years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never once disobeyed your orders. Even so, you have never even given me a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours returns after wasting his inheritance from you on prostitutes, you kill the fatted calf for him.’

31 “Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours. 32 But it was only right that we should celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and now he has been found.’ ”

Footnotes

  1. Luke 15:1 These three joyous parables of Luke’s Gospel disclose the sentiments that the Father and Jesus have toward human beings. God is untiringly concerned for those who are far off, the sinners or unbelievers. His joy is to seek out and find those who are lost. This desire and this joy of God are revealed to us in the comportment of Christ himself toward sinners. In turn, the Church must trust in the mercy of God and must seek out and welcome those who seem far away. May she always bear witness to the value that human beings have in the eyes of God.
  2. Luke 15:1 In the name of God’s love for sinners, Jesus overthrows several customs of his day. He refuses to accept the attitudes held by well-regarded religious figures: scorn toward others and smugness in their own self-sufficiency.
  3. Luke 15:3 The parable of the lost sheep pushes antithesis to the extreme so that persons may never doubt God’s tenderness for them.
  4. Luke 15:8 The parable of the lost coin demonstrates what a great contrast there is between the joy of heaven and the disdain of the Pharisees and the so-called clean!
  5. Luke 15:8 Coins: literally, “drachmas,” a drachma being the Greek coin corresponding to the Roman denarius, a laborer’s daily wage.
  6. Luke 15:11 The parable of the prodigal son, one of the most enchanting stories of Jesus, completes the two preceding parables. It is God who awaits sinners, and it is humanity that is encouraged to seek God. We recognize in it all the misery of sin: abandonment, solitude, and distress. The parable describes the path to conversion and finally the great certitude of the believer: beyond all human hope, God harbors for every person the unfailing affection of a father for his child. He awaits the child and welcomes it joyously. It is easy to see in the discontent of the elder son the anger of the Pharisees at the welcome Jesus gives to sinners.
  7. Luke 15:15 Pigs: unclean animals for the Jews.

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