On one of my trips to Tanzania, I decided that I would do a bit of “prodigal son” research (Luke 15:11-32) with the Lutheran seminary students there. I asked, “Why did the young man end up hungry in a pig pen?” and about 80 percent of them answered, “Because no one gave him anything to eat.”
I pressed the matter with them. I asked, “Why should anyone give him anything? Wasn’t it his own fault, squandering his money like he did?” They told me this was a callous attitude. The boy was in a far country. Immigrants often lose their money. They don’t know how things work. They might spend all their money when they shouldn’t because they don’t know about famines that come. But it doesn’t really make any difference because, in any case, the Bible commands us to care for the stranger and alien in our midst. It is a lack of hospitality to do so.
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “Multiple Meanings: Learning from other interpretations” by Mark Allan Powell in the April 2018 Gather magazine. Today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent.
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