The prodigal son and justice


Remember the parable of the prodigal son. This is a great example of the difference between “Social (American) Justice” and “Biblical Justice”. Love is truly transformed into mercy when it is necessary to go beyond the narrow confines justice. In today’s world, way too many people run around screaming for Social Justice ( that everyone deserves equally), when we should be seeking Biblical Justice (you only get that which you truly need). Social Justice would call for the prodigal son, having wasted away the property he received from his father to earn his living after his return by working for his father as a the low man on the totem pole and possibly, little by little, to re-build his father’s trust and pay him back for all he had squandered. Social Justice would demand this because not only did the son throw away his inheritance that his father has worked so hard to accumulate, but he had also hurt and offended his father by wild hare actions. His loss of dignity as a good son had to have deeply hurt his father and caused him to suffer.

The truth is however, that a loving relationship between father and son can never be altered or destroyed by any action. The father joyously welcomes the prodigal son back with open arms. This story enables us to better understand “Biblical Justice” and the true nature of the mercy of God. The figure of the father reveals to us God as Father. The father of the prodigal son is faithful to his fatherhood, faithful to the love that he had always had for his son. This fidelity is illustrated both by the fathers immediate readiness to welcome him home, and even more fully by the joy, the merrymaking for the son after his return, merrymaking which is so lavish that it irritates the elder brother, who had never gone far away from his father and had never abandoned the home. The father says to the elder brother, “It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found.”

Deep down the father understood that a greater good had been saved: the good of his son’s eternal humanity. Although the son had pissed away his inheritance, nevertheless his humanity was saved. It wasn’t about the money lost, it was about the soul regained.

A fathers love for his son springs forth from the very essence of fatherhood, in a way obliges the father to administer “Biblical Justice” and not be boxed inside the narrow confines of what society (Social Justice) would dictate. This story illustrates the true nature of love. “Love is patient and kind… love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…but rejoices in the right…hopes all things, endures all things” and “love never ends.” This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son or daughter, to every human misery, every human suffering, every sin, and take them by the hand and help then up. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.”

Let’s all go out and administer some Biblical Justice today!