The prodigal son smells

After taking and squandering his inheritance early, his new homeland was struck with famine, and he ended up working with pigs. And in fact, he was treated worse than the pigs.

So, when he comes to his senses and returns to his father, he is very dirty and very smelly. When his father sees him in the distance, he sees first of all just a man covered in pigs muck. Then he recognises him as his son, and everything else becomes secondary.

He runs out to him, and doesn’t think twice about clasping him tight and tenderly kissing him, despite inevitably getting smelly, unclean pigs muck on himself. He takes on his sons filth, and embraces him in it. And his tears, borne of long sorrow and fresh joy, begin to cleanse the son.

And then he orders the best robe to be brought out and put on him. He is clothed in his father’s righteousness, dignity, and glory. He is his father’s son, and all the father has belongs to the son.

No doubt he will be washed first. To put on the father’s robe, he will first be stripped and washed. His shame will be removed, to make way for his glory, that is the glory of his father.

The transformation is striking, from penniless wanderer, reeking of pig, to honoured, celebrated, dignified son. He is a new creation.
God bless you!


  1. The few times I’ve worked with pigs, I’ve not found them too obnoxious; the Bible gives them a bad press. But yes, you’d want to change your clothes and wash before eating a good meal with the family! The prodigal will have been working hard, especially if they were top quality free range pigs, and no wellington boots back then. He did well to go back home.

    There is this French chant by Lucien Deisse – there are lots of verses but here is the chorus: “Yes, I shall arise and I shall go to my father.”

    I remember this tune each time the reading comes up.

    Happy Lent and be polite to pigs!



    1. Truth be told, I actually really like pigs. There’s something lovable about them and their messiness. Sad to think that pigs in those days were probably treated better than many today.

      Thank you. Happy Lent to you too!


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