Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them.
‘Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
‘When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” So he got up and went to his father.
‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him.
‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
‘But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
Holidays always seem to find a way to bring family issues to the fore front and enhance the chaos and havoc that goes on in our varying relationships. In my family, there are always at least two siblings who are not talking to each other. The sad phrase “you are dead to me” comes out frequently. As we get personally embroiled in them, them seem to be stumbling blocks that only we face.
As we continue on our journey through Genesis, we see that family dynamics continue to be an issue for Abraham and his family. We find Abrahams great grandson Joseph struggling with his view of himself, in which he perceives himself as the center of the world.
Joseph’s family problems start out with the way he treats his stepbrothers, particularly the children of the maids. Joseph spies on them, and then turns around and snitches on them to their father Jacob.
Later, God gives Joseph visions of his future. Joseph doesn’t ponder what they mean, instead he quickly rubs it in his brothers faces, telling them that he is greater than they are. Finally, he ignores the Creator’s teaching to respect your parents, telling his father that his father will bow down to him.
Centuries later, we have Jesus telling his followers a story that has come to be known as the Prodigal Son. Things haven’t changed much since the time of Joseph as the Prodigal Son displays many of the same behaviors that Joseph had. The Prodigal Son disrespects his father, essentially saying “you are dead to me, give me my inheritance”, then leaves his brother to do all the work taking care of their father.
As we continue with their stories both Joseph and the Prodigal Son take a journey in which the creator humbles them. They both come to grow, mature and ultimately be transformed by the lessons the Eternal has given them. Joseph uses his dreams to build others up, and the Prodigal Son returns home seeking forgiveness.
In our family, someone ultimately comes to the realization that the issue that started the problem was insignificant in the greater scheme of things. By reaching out and asking for forgiveness, and forgiving each other, both will grow, mature and transform and be welcomed home into family.
The adversary has created our egos as a means to pull us apart from each other and God. Satan’s plans are to get us to focus on our desires and selfish wants so that we will forget to be the image of God. The image of love.
Genesis is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It tells so many stories about family struggles and how they can be overcome. It reminds us that others experience the same issues we contend with. It tells us God is aware and with us. We are encouraged to choose love.