Yesterday, my Gospels classes, mostly sophomores with a sprinkling of juniors and seniors, tested over the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. We spent several days looking at this well-known parable which is really two stories of two very different brothers. You know the gist. The younger son of a wealthy man demands his share of the estate and the father gives it to him. The boy goes far away and blows the fortune it took decades to amass. When he hits rock bottom and comes to his senses, he makes the long trip home, preparing his apology. But, the father sees him and sprints to his youngest, setting off a celebration. However, the older, responsible son is angry that the father has accepted his nere-do-well sibling and refuses to join in the party. We explained the father represents God, the older son is the Pharisees, and the Prodigal stands for sinners who come home. For their discussion question, the students had to write a sequel to the story. Here is a sample. Warning- they don't all have happy endings!
"The anger of the older son increases every day. The older son and the younger son fight daily. The older son leaves, too, and then repents. The father forgives both of them and the boys realize the love the father has for both sons is equal; they get the same amount of love. The family starts to be peaceful again.''
Harris Chen, grade 10
''In ten years, the father dies. He leaves a small share of his wealth to the younger son. The older brother becomes furious again, seizes the money from his younger brother, and leaves the village. The younger son was on the edge of going broke when he has a dream. In the dream, he saw a mountain and heard a voice saying, 'Since you repented, work hard from now on and go seek your fortune.' The younger son started travelling and worked hard. Five years, later, he found a mountain and a gold mine. He lived happily and frugally ever after.''
Ingrid Guan, grade 12
''In ten years, the two brothers will greatly hate each other. The father will die and he puts the younger son back in the will. When the older son finds out, he is infuriated by this and the brothers get into a fight. It ends up like Cain and Abel.''
Travis Moles, grade 10
"After refusing to come into the party for his brother, the older brother asked the dad for his share of the estate and left right after that. He went to a nearby village and started a new life. Ten years later, all of his property was destroyed by flooding. He had no home or job so he decided to come back home. Now the father had passed away and the younger son was looking for his brother. He saw him a long way off, ran to him, gave him gifts, and threw a party to celebrate. Now, the older brother understood why his father did it when the younger son came home.''
Steve Nguyen, grade 12
''One year later, the father passed away and the older brother still hated the little brother. When it was time for the boys to get their inheritance, the older brother took his and did not share, leaving the younger brother poor and hungry. Then one day, the older brother had a dream of his younger brother standing in the cold. He woke up, went to find his brother, and asked for forgiveness. The brothers then had a big feast and lived happily ever after!''
Jasmine Lewis, grade 11
''As the days go on, the younger son continually leaves and returns. The father rejoices each time he returns while the older son remains bitter. Finally, the day came when the father died and both sons were filled with grief. Afterwards, the younger son considered leaving but the older son grabbed him and looked at him. He said, 'Stay- I can't bear to think of you dying again.' And so he did.''
Allison Crouch, grade 10
''The father continues to show compassion for his younger son and the older brother continues to grow more jealous. The older son becomes enraged when his inheritance shrinks so the younger can be written back into the will. He sues his own father and loses. He has to pay his court cost with what is left of his inheritance.''
Remington James, grade 10
''It's ten years after the return of the Prodigal Son. The two brothers are still at each others' throats. The younger son has messed up AGAIN and is now a servant for his dad. The older son got married and moved away because he could not stand looking at his father and brother. He gave up his inheritance to get away and he never looked back. The father is no longer a peacemaker and is angry at both of his sons.''
Miriam Weathersby, grade 10
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