Thursday, February 02, 2006


The Return of the Prodigal Son

Book #5: I just finished reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. I read this book about 4 years ago and honestly couldn't remember a single thing about it except that I liked it. So, when I saw it again I decided to reread the book. Hopefully this time I will remember what it is about. The author became fascinated with Rembrandt's painting The Return of the Prodigal Son and wrote a story about the spiritual journey the painting took him on. The painting was based on the Biblical story of the the prodigal son in Luke.

Nouwen reflects on Rembrant's work and life by sharing the thoughts and challenges he encountered as he studied the younger son, the older son and the father in the painting. He talks about his experience with being the younger son who left home and returned with the hopes of only being a slave but instead being offered a great feast. He clearly identifies with the resentful, bitter, older son in the story and his reaction to the younger son's return. He also discusses the father's love for the sons and the invitation to joy and rest that was extended to both sons by the father. Finally, he concludes with the challenge that it is our call to become like the father and "be compassionate as your father is compassionate" (Luke 6:36). Nouwen gave me a fresh perspective on the parable and challenged me to accept God's invitation to joy and in turn extend it to others. His writing is captivating and real. Give this one a read!

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