In a distant world of cultural shifts and restless hearts, a certain man had two sons – one full of youthful fire, the other with years of steady toil. The younger son, bold and brash, pleaded to his father, “Give me my share, that I may venture forth and taste the fruits of life.”
And so, with a heavy heart, the father divided his living, and the son set forth into a far country, where revelry and extravagance became his chosen path. With reckless abandon, he squandered his riches in riotous living until famine struck, and he found himself broke, and broken.
In desperation, he sought solace in the company of strangers, and they sent him to be with swine in their fields. A lowly existence it was, for he would have gladly filled his belly with swine’s husks, but none offered him aid.
Alone in his destitution, he finally saw the error of his ways. “How many servants in my father’s house have plenty, while I perish with hunger?” He vowed to return and plead for forgiveness, no longer worthy of sonship, but willing to be a hired servant.
With newfound resolve, he journeyed back to his father’s embrace. From afar, the father saw his son’s haggard figure, and his heart was stirred with compassion. He ran to him, wrapped him in love, and kissed his tear-stained cheeks.
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and you,” the son humbly confessed. “I am not worthy to be called your son.”
But the father, called for the best robe and adorned his son’s hand with a ring, signifying his return to the fold. He set shoes upon his feet and beckoned for the fatted calf to be killed, for his son who was lost had returned, and they began to rejoice.
Meanwhile, the elder son toiled in the fields, and the sounds of merriment reached his ears. Confused, he inquired about the cause of the celebration, only to be told that his brother, the “prodigal one”, had returned safely.
Bitterness rose within him, and he refused to partake in the jubilant feast. His father, concerned, went to him and implored him to join in the rejoicing.
“Father, all these years I have faithfully served you, never straying from your commandments,” the elder son lamented. “Yet you never gave me a kid to make merry with my friends. And now, for the one who devoured your living in folly, you prepare a grand celebration!”
With a tender voice, the father replied, “My dear son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. But it is fitting that we rejoice, for your brother was once lost, but now he is found, he was dead, and now he is alive again.”