Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15, 11-32) forms a narrative for repentance at its different stages, and like that of the Publican and Pharisee, is a traditional subject for reflection for Christians entering into the Lenten period. Sin is exile, repentance is the return from exile to our true home. We also learn of three things through this parable: the condition of the sinner, the rule of repentance, and the greatness of God’s compassion and mercy. These are themes also, of course that are applicable generally during the Lenten season.

This painting by the English artist John Macallan Swan was done in the year 1888, and is now in the Tate Gallery in London. He uses a naturalistic style; the focus is on the light that emanates from the torso of the son and makes the connection in our minds with the person of Christ, the Son, who is the Light of the World. Notice how the artist draws our attention to it by rendering most of the rest of the painting in reduced color and dark tones, as the Prodigal Son dreams of home, represented by the distant heavenly light on the horizon.

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