11. Then, to further make His point about recovery, He told this story: "There was a certain wealthy landowner who had two sons;
12. One day, the younger of the two of them came to his father and said, 'Sir, I want you to give me my inheritance now...all of it...the money, and the part of the property that will eventually be mine, anyway. And without protest, the father did exactly as his son had requested, dividing the estate between them.
13. In almost no time, the younger son gathered up everything that he had, and started out on a grand adventure, journeying into a distant country. Once he arrived at a place that suited him...a place that could accommodate his desire for an extravagant and hedonistic lifestyle...he started throwing money at anything and everything that could bring him pleasure. Before he knew it, he had recklessly wasted his entire fortune in the prodigal pursuit of his passions.
14. As it turned out, when he had spent everything that he had, a terrible famine came upon that country, and he became destitute.
15. Desperate, he went and forced himself on one of the citizens of that country, begging for work. So that man took pity on him and sent him into his fields to feed his hogs.
16. His situation continued to deteriorate to the point that he would gladly have fed on the carob pods that the hogs were eating, because they were eating better than he was at the time, but they couldn't satisfy his extreme hunger. But there was no alternative...nobody could provide him with anything better.
17. Then he came to himself...he looked objectively at the picture of what he had become, and compared it to the picture in his mind of what he knew he was supposed to be. And with that he said, 'How many hired servants on my father's estate have enough food...more than enough to eat, in fact...but here I am, dying of hunger in a land of strangers!
18. I'm going to get myself up, and I'm going to go to my father. And when I see him, I'm going to say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God, and in your sight.
19. I'm not even worthy to be called your son any longer, seeing as how I have selfishly squandered the inheritance you freely gave me, disgracing your family's good name. Please, sir...if you see fit, just make me like one of your hired servants, and I will work hard for everything I earn.
20. So he got up out of the hog pen, and returned to his father, practicing his repentance speech the whole way there. But while he was still a long way off, his father recognized his emaciated frame, staggering up the road, and was moved with pity and tenderness for him. So, instead of proudly waiting for the son to come all the way to him...and without judgment...and without even thinking about anything that had happened in the past...he just started running toward his boy. And when he reached him, he grabbed him and held him tight, ignoring the stench of the hogs that was still on him, and started kissing him all over his thin, mud-smeared face.
21. And the surprised son went into his rehearsed repentance speech, saying, 'Father, I have sinned against God and in your sight...I'm no longer worthy to be treated as your son...I don't even deserve to be recognized as a son of yours!'
22. But the father didn't need to hear a word of it. He immediately said to one of his bond servants, 'Bring me, this instant, the very best robe...the festive robe reserved for guests of honor...and put it on him...cover him with it. And give him a family signet ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet.
23. And not only that...go bring out that fine, wheat-fattened calf that we've been saving for a special occasion, and butcher it. Tonight we'll pull out all the stops, have a feast fit for a king, and raise the roof with celebration!
24. Don't you see? This is my son who was dead, and is alive again...he was lost and is found!' And with those words, the entire household went into a state of revelry.
25. But while all of this was happening, his older son was out working hard in the field. At the end of a long day's work, he returned to the main house, and as he approached, he heard music and dancing.
26. So he called one of the servant boys to him, and asked him what was going on.
27. The boy excitedly said to him, 'Oh! Haven't you heard? Your little brother has come home, and your father has killed that wheat-fattened calf that he's been saving, and has thrown him a huge party! He's so happy that his son is back, safe and well.'
28. But the elder brother was furious at this news, and began to make a scene. He refused to go inside the house, so his father came out and began to reason with him, trying to calm him down.
29. But he pushed his father away and said, 'Are you kidding me with this?! You can't be serious! All these many years I have served you, and I've never once disobeyed any of your directives. But you've never given me so much as a young goat, so that I might have just a little get-together with my friends.
30. But all of a sudden, when this ungrateful, undisciplined, irresponsible son of yours shows up here, after having devoured your estate by spending everything you gave him on whores and God knows what else, you have killed for him the special wheat-fattened calf!'
31. And the father said to him, 'Oh, buddy...don't you realize that you're always with me, and that everything I have is yours? You can have anything you want at any time...just ask for it.
32. But I'm not going to make any apology for having this feast for your brother. If the celebration goes on all night long, so be it...it's the right thing to do. This brother of yours was dead, and is alive again! He was lost and is found!'"