4th Sunday of Lent (Ages 3-6): Who Is God Like?
(Adults, the Gospel for this Sunday is the well-known parable of the Prodigal Son. We can call it, though, the parable of the Forgiving Father. The Good News is all about the father, isn't it? For the 3-6 year olds, who are not yet at the age of reason, we focus solely on how good the Father is. He is someone we can love!)
Often, when we listen to the Bible, we hear Jesus talking about who God is. Why? Jesus knows that people wonder, "Who are you, God?" We wonder about that, too. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells a parable to help us understand what God is like.
This is a parable about a father.
“There was a man who had two sons.
The father in this parable has two children. One is older and one is younger. Many of us have brothers or sisters who are older than us. Many of us have brothers or sisters who are younger than us. Some of us have no brothers or sisters—just us.
The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’
The younger boy asks his father for money. He does not ask very nicely, does he? We notice he does not say "please." We might expect the father to say, "No way." We might expect him to say, "Nice try." We might expect him to put the boy in time out. But,
the father divided his property between them.
A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country
The younger boy leaves home and goes far away. We wonder how the father feels about that. We wonder if he misses him very much.
After a very long time, the younger boy returns home. He walks because there are no cars or buses.
while he was still far off, his father saw him
Wait. How can his father see him if he is still far off? His father cannot be inside the home. The father cannot be busy reading the newspaper or making lunch or taking a nap. The father must be outside. He must be watching for his child. We wonder how long he has been watching. Five minutes? Ten minutes? Or has he been standing outside every day, watching and hoping for his child to return home?
When the father sees his child, what does he do?
he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
The father cannot wait to be with his child again. He cannot wait to hug him and kiss him. He runs to his child. How much the father must love his child.
What does the father say?
let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’
He is so full of joy that his child has returned! They were separated but now they are together. He loves his son and is so glad that he is home. The father rejoices!
And they began to celebrate.
They celebrate! There is food and drink, song and dance. The whole home is full of love and joy. Parent and child are together again.
But there are two children. Where is the older boy?
Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. The slave replied, ‘Your brother has come
At first, the older child is confused. He did not expect a party at his home. The person who works for his father tells him that his brother has come home. His brother has been gone for so long, but now he is home.
“Then the elder son became angry and refused to go in.
Well, this is a surprise! The older boy is angry. He does not rejoice. We wonder why. Perhaps he thinks his father loves his brother more than him. Perhaps he thinks his father only has enough love for one child. Perhaps he thinks his father does not want him anymore now that his brother is home.
When the older boy is angry and will not come in to the home, what does the father do?
His father came out and began to plead with him. ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
The father comes out to find the older boy. He wants all of his children together with him. All that he has, he gives to his child. It seems that the father loves this son, too!
The father explains,
But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Jesus tells this parable about the father when the people wonder about God.
What does he want us to know about God?
What do we know about the father in this parable?
We know he watches for his children to come home.
We know he cannot wait to be together with his children.
We know he loves them so much.
We know he celebrates his love for his children.
We know he gives them all that he has.
We know he loves all his children.
The father in the parable is so very good.
Who could he be like?