Henri Nouwen is one of the most beloved Christian authors of the 20th century. "Return of the Prodigal Son: Story of Homecoming" was one of his later works and is based on his personal reflections of Rembrandt's painting, "The Return of the Prodigal Son." The book is a remarkably fresh, meaningful and life changing look at this well-known New Testament story. Rembrant's painting questioned Nouwen. Who are you? Which of the figures do you identify with? His first thoughts were that he did not know what it was like to be the prodigal son, to be held and loved, to rest his head on the Father. He was one of the onlookers. Nouwen wrote, "For years I had instructed students on the different aspects of the spiritual life . . . But had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God?" In this text, Nouwen analyzes his relationship with the Father, as well as, the relationships of the three characters in the story. Nouwen spent some time discussing how the father goes out to both sons. The father did go out to greet the elder son and ask him to come in. Nouwen said the he could no longer think of God as being hard to find. God is the one doing the looking; we are the ones lingering outside or even hiding. Nouwen also spends several pages analyzing the elder brother's resentment of the younger and wrote, "Looking into myself and then around me at the lives of other people, I wonder which does more damage, lust or resentment?" A good question and a good book for us all to apply to ourselves. (to view the painting, go to http://www.geocities.com/petsnpeople/prodigal.jpg)
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