Wednesday, March 13 | Luke 15:11-32

Marcia Fellows

When reading this text, my mind fixates on the wayward son’s return, his father’s response and the older brother’s reaction. There is a lot of emphasis on the “fatted calf” and merriment or lack of it from the brother’s perspective. However, the first of the father’s gifts mentioned, or ‘best coat,’ is intriguing.

The best coat is often referred to by theologians as ‘first coat’ or ‘first robe’ (Douay Rheims Bible). In the Literal Standard Version, it is called the ‘foremost robe’.

The significance of this gift appears from the beginning with Adam and Eve following the Fall when God sees the shame they feel at their nakedness and disobedience. He hears their excuses, covers them in skins and sets the stage for the long journey of reconciliation, redemption and restoration. This seems to me to show God’s hope for us to be reunited with Him as his children.

Then there is the whole saga of Joseph’s coat given to him by his father which ended badly and forced him into Egypt. He served (Potiphar) in the coat of a slave and eventually became the savior of his people in the ‘coat’ or raiment of Pharoh’s chosen overseer. He was a son, a servant and a savior. To me, this is a reflection of Jesus.

Revelation speaks of the robes washed clean in the blood of the lamb as the white robes of redemption. Robes are a key instrument of hope and redemption throughout the Bible. I believe that Jesus was using this ‘gift’ in his parable as just that. The younger son is reunited to his father regardless of his self destructive behavior. The coat indicates that he is restored to full statis as the second son.

As to the elder son, his resentment may have gone beyond jealousy over dinner and his father’s act of forgiveness to grief at perceiving himself as somehow unworthy of sharing in that reunification. I believe that all of us have a little kernel of fear that we are unworthy of God’s great gift of reconciliation, redemption and restoration as His children through Christ Jesus. The good Father waits and welcomes us all, and offers to each the best coat.

Marcia Fellows has been a member of Trinity Cathedral for nine years. She is a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a Lay Reader, and a member of the Altar Guild.

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