I have chosen the Lukan narrative ‘TheLost Son’ to explore in this essay.
I have chosen this narrative as I thinkthis parable fits in well with modern day teaching practices. It also raiseskey social issues that can be explored in the classroom with many different agegroups. This parable proclaims good news that can be discussed with thechildren while learning about and understanding the parable. The parable isalso short enough for the children to be able to transfer it into contemporary setting,which is more relatable to their life nowadays. I will be discussing thisparable through mercy, justice and grace. There is a huge amount of ways thatnarratives can be explored in a primary education context as we have learnedthroughout our RE102 module.
Ibegin my essay with a contemporary perspective on gospel parables. Tolbert,Perspectives on the Parables, says that to comprehend the parables intoday’s circumstance we require a ‘contemporary reader’1.InJesus’ time the parables were used to confront the prejudices were present inhis era. Some of these are no longer accurately relevant to our lives nowadaysdue to an altering culture. But we can adjust the meaning of these parables to relatethem to a contemporary situation. In my opinion their apparent messages canalways be related to everyday life, they will never be obsolete.
The parablesare based on simple principles, which are still very important in everydaylife. For example, in the story the Good Samaritan there is messages that willnever become outdated, as discussed in lectures. We must always appreciate thevalue and truth that the gospel parables have to offer us. I have chosen theparable of The Lost Son. I would categorise The Lost Son as a parable of inclusionand mercy, as we can see when we read it. ‘As its simplest the parable is ametaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer byits vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt aboutits precise application to tease it into active thought.
‘2 The Lost Soncan be interpreted merely interpreted as a narrative about a young boy who madenumerous mistakes, but it can also be interpreted in a way that has a greater significanceas well as a ethical lesson and lessons on how to exist in the way Jesus soughtafter. This parable can be analysed and cracked into many parts to teach lessonson how to survive our lives. Parables are multi-dimensional.
When we begin toanaylse the text and its educational and communal context we see that there isso much detail in this parable. Sallie McFague suggests that a parable should not be condensed to a figure of speech;’the central features of the parable as aesthetic object are its realism andits strangeness,’3 is what shebelieves. She argues that we ought to also think about how relevant theparables are in today’s world as well as the deeper meaning that they teach.
The parables are beached in truth and as Mc Fague says we must focus on thiswhen we are thinking about and discussing parables. There is anumber of key social issues raised by this parable. Herzog states thatthe parables do not constantly educate of the ‘glory of the reign (Kingdom) ofGod, but on the gory details of how oppression serves the interests of a rulingclass’4.Wealth,being the first one I will discuss.
Specifically, the lives of the poor and thelives of those who are marginalised are ideas Luke writes about in thisparable. The youngest son starts off as an entitled member of the upperclass. He then receives his inheritance, which in turn leads to newfoundfreedom and had everything he had always wanted. A second social issue is ownership,or obvious lack of. This issue is obviously linked with the issue of when theson quickly experiences the other end of social class.
When he loses his moneyhe too loses his freedom and followers. The son without money was reduced to abeggar. Jesus, in the Gospel, time and time again is depicted as warning peopleagainst the risk of trusting in material wealth and security.
Luke writes ofthe need for careful management and use of wealth. Thestory of The Lost Son highlights the difference in social classes in societyand the authority money has in our world. The parable of the Lost Son highlightsdifferences in rank and how being of a superior rank does not mean that you area better person. This story alsoexplores the issue of family. The son turns his back on his father and leaveshim showing no regard for his family. When he loses all his money, his fatheris the first person to forgive and take him back home.
Instead of dismissinghim when he returns, his father welcomes him back into his life and forgiveshim. This story highlights the true forgiving and loving nature of families,which is evident in today’s world. Thereare many ways by which the text proclaims good news. The text proclaims good news to those of us who are true followers ofChrist. If we, as children of God, fulfill what he is asking of us, then we aresure to be rewarded and welcomed with open arms into his kingdom. We know thatGod asks us to love our neighbour as we would love our self.
We have learned toforgive and forget. The Lost Son certainly proclaims goodnews of mercy and grace. This is mainly done through the father acting as ametaphor for God in this text. Firstly, the text proclaims goodnews of the free will God has granted to every one of us. The son had the freewill to take his inheritance and move out of home. He was given the freedom tomake his own choices in life.
Thishighlights the freedom of choice God gives to us all, we are free to livehowever we choose. As we see in the Lost Son, if we make mistake, we can alwaysask for forgiveness and try to be accepted back into God’s kingdom. As his sonreturns the father rejoices and welcomes him back into his home. Thishighlights the grace and mercy God shows to us when we request forgiveness.
Should we choose to leave the Kingdom of God, we will always be approvedforgiveness if we ask for it. As the son returns, asking the fathersforgivness, the father rejoices and welcomes him home again. Thereare many ways that this parable can be explored and used in a primary schoolsetting. This parable can be approached in a sociable way, in order to caterfor the children you are teaching. The children can attempt to relate this totheir life and get access to more tricky topics which they may not completelycomprehend or relate to. This parable realtes to the three terms; marcy, grace,and justice and therefore would be perfect to teach in the classroom.
‘Love thelord your God with all your heart, and with your soul, and with all yourstrength and your neighbour as yourself.’ 5This parable gives use the optionto do narrative therapy. This will help the children to understand that theyare not defined by what people think of them. We can teach th children that themajority of preconceptions are not correct. The children will be encouraged tobe themselves and not allow preconceptions become their identity. We can teach children to be loving andkind towards others whoever the person may be.
This can be taught all the wayup throughout life but it is predominantly significant at a younger age groupto help develop well-formed individuals through education. This parable couldalso be integrated through other curriculum subjects. Drama could be used inorder to give the children the change to put their own modern day twist on theparable of the Lost Son. The story be read to the children bythe teacher and the reading of the text should naturally be followed withscaffold questioning, of both higher and lower order, to check understandingand assess learning.
Theycan become an agent of their own learning. To conclude, the parable of The LostSon has much to offer, in terms of education and religion. This parable is mostcertainly a parable of justice, mercy and grace. The Lost Son is a multi-dimensionalparable that has numerous areas for teaching justice, mercy and grace. Thistext, as discussed above, can be used in a classroom setting to approachcontemporary social issues. This means it can be adapted to be more relatablefor a modern day audience.
The Lost Son deals with many modern day socialissues, for example wealth versus poor, social status, families and power. Thiscan be taught to all age groups in order to develop well-formed individuals.1Tolbert, MaryAnn. Perspectives on the Parables: AnApproach to Multiple Interpretations.
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979),13. 2 Dodd, C. H. The Parables ofthe Kingdom. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons , 1935)3McFague, Sallie.
Speaking in Parables. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press, 1975), 75.4 Gowler, David B. What arethey Saying About the Parables? (New York: Paulist Press, 1958), 69.5Maturin, B. W.
Practical Studies on The Parables of OurLord. (London: Longman’s, Green and Co., 1915), 187.