I'm pretty sure you've heard of Bono? He’s the lead singer of the popular Irish rock band “U2.” One day, upon arriving in Italy for a concert, Bono discovered that he had forgotten his favorite straw cowboy hat. He immediately paid $1600 to have the hat flown first class to Italy and chauffeured by a driver to his concert location. $1600 to fly a hat first class? Who does that? I guess Bono does that.
This incident captures the sense of a word we found in Sunday’s Gospel lesson: prodigal, reckless, wasteful. “The younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living (Luke 15:13).” This word is only used this one time in all of the New Testament. An ancient Greek writer uses this term asotos to refer to an uncommon practice of certain extremely wealthy people of his time. After a day of walking around in sandals they would come home with grimy, smelly, dirty feet. But instead of having their servants wash their feet with water they would instruct them to use expensive spiced wine. Imagine opening a $150 bottle of wine and pouring it over your dirty feet! Reckless! Wasteful! Prodigal!
What’s amazing about the story of the Prodigal Son, is that it’s not really about the recklessness of the rebel son. The parable is about the reckless love of the Father. In Jesus’ parable, the Father makes recklessly benevolent decisions over and over again. In fact, his recklessness in giving even eclipses the recklessness of his wayward son. To the outsider looking in, it looks like waste. Why love someone so unlovable? But one person’s waste is another person’s treasure. To give recklessly to his children is the Father’s greatest joy.
And there is no gift more reckless, more beautifully wasteful than for God to shed his own infinitely precious blood to cleanse our souls from the dirty guilt of sin. What a wonderfully reckless God we serve!
Father Kurt is the Pastor of Light of Christ Anglican Church in Georgetown, TX