What is a parent to do? Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Everyone who has grown up with siblings can relate to this text.  Within each family there seems to always be the wild child.  The one knowing how to wrap mom and dad around their little finger.  The one the rest of the family seems the need to keep and eye on.  Then there is the one never getting into trouble and continuing to whisper under their breath, “mom and dad always like them best.”  This brings us to the reading above.  We call it the parable of the prodigal son but it is really about the incredible love of a parent for a couple of children refusing to understand how good they have it.

In the parable the younger son declares his independence and wants his inheritance now.  To him, his father is as good as dead.  The inheritance is quickly spent.  The son returns with a plan to be allowed back at least as a common worker.  The father instead receives him back fully as a son and throws a big party.

The older son refuses to attend the party for ‘his father’s son.’  He despises his father’s love for that son who wasted the inheritance on prostitutes.  He sees his life lived under his father as servitude and drudgery.  His father never even held a party for him and his friends though he likely never asked for one.  He refuses to attend the party for the safe return of his father’s son.  What is a parent to do?

Family fights are so horribly painful.  We know each other’s weaknesses.  A parent knows the hurt of being caught in the middle.  What is a parent to do but love each child unconditionally?

The father in the story is God.  The party is a restorative feast to bring us one and all together again under his love.  However we are too busy manipulating, fighting, calling out each other’s sins, acting out in resentment, treating God as though dead, despising God for being merciful and so on.  We are some nasty kids at times.

Yet, we are still loved.  There is a party to celebrate our restoration as one under his love for us all.  If we only understood just how good we have it.


What Makes a Good Wine? John 2:1-22

Buying a good bottle of wine these days is no easy task.  The options available seem endless which is obvious walking into a liquor store or even a grocery store.  Do you want a red?  How about a white?  Do you like dry?  How about a sweet wine?  Of course there are the different blends seeking a middle ground.  Is a $60 bottle of wine really six times better than a $10 bottle?  If you are going off to visit a friend and bring a bottle of wine as a gift, the choice isn’t always such an easy one to make.  After all, what is a good wine?

Jesus, his disciples and family (mother) are attending a wedding feast in Cana.  Wedding parties were known to last a looooong time.  The wine was running low which was more than an inconvenience.  The concept of hospitality was crucial in those days.  Yes, guests would bring gifts of food and wine but for the wine to run out on such a festive time was a shameful moment for the host.

Jesus’ mother responded by going to him with the problem.  Jesus’ didn’t seem all that concerned but had six large jars filled with water and taken to master of the banquet.  This was the best wine of all.  John records this as the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs pointing to his identity and glory.

Wine and feasting has great meaning in the Scriptures telling of the hospitality, abundance and victory of God.  For example, Isaiah 25 tells of the Lord preparing a feast including the finest of wines for all people.  The reason for the party is the Lord swallowing up death forever.  Isaiah 55 gives the great invitation for all the thirsty and hungry to come and feast their souls on the richest fare which the Lord has provided (all without cost by the way).

The wedding at Cana was more than Jesus turning water into wine and getting the host out of a sticky situation.  Here Jesus is presented to be the presence of God bringing a victorious feast for all people… the wine of this celebration is better than any wine ever tasted.