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Happiness Search: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Human life is inextricably linked with searching for answers to various questions. However, although for most people, the questions and quests they face in life are unique, one theme is common to all. It is the question of the meaning of life, which, sooner or later, every person considers. Almost every person wants to believe that some intention justifies their presence. Fortunately for many seeking souls, religion allows finding the answer to this question by turning to God, who created people in His image. By studying many sacred texts, it can be concluded that the real meaning of human life is the achievement of bliss and beatitude. This essay aims to analyze the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15:11–32 to confirm this thesis and investigate the connection of this text with the search for true happiness.

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This parable is one of the most famous passages in the Gospel of Luke and has become a popular subject for various creative writings. Interpretations of this text are found on the stained-glass windows of cathedrals, paintings by famous artists, and on the stages of opera houses. The reason for such a high popularity of this work, of course, is the brightness of the images. However, in addition to a simple but instructive story, the parable has many other meanings. At the first reading, it may seem to be only an example of the virtue and prudence shown by the youngest son and father. The first, having gone astray, gain the courage to return home, being ready to atone for his guilt with his labor. On the other hand, the father shows mercy by forgiving the prodigal son and accepting him back with open arms. These qualities and these images can serve as excellent examples for people following which they can improve their own lives.

However, it must be remembered that this text is a biblical parable and is closely connected with Christian religious teaching. Therefore, the images shown to the reader must be perceived not only superficially. They also should analyze their more profound and philosophical meaning. The younger son in this parable is called the prodigal for several reasons. First of all, he is engaged in fornication, dissolutely and thoughtlessly spending the funds allocated by his father. At the same time, he embodies the main features of a reckless sinner who has gone astray and indulged in earthly temptations. He rejects the quiet life of his father for the attractions that beckon him from afar. Nevertheless, his return is dictated not only by the need to survive but also by sincere repentance for the sins committed.

This passionate feeling, which helped him return to his roots and the righteous path, allowed him to achieve something he did not seek and did not expect to find. Returning home, he was fully prepared to accept the wrath of his father and heaven. However, he was faced with overwhelming love, understanding, and support. The father did not care what exactly his son went through. He received him with joy in his heart because he returned home alive and of his own free will. The path of the youngest son began with leaving his father in search of a better life and happiness, which the man hoped to find in base pleasures. This path led him to poverty, despair, and humility, and made him decide to return. The youngest son could not find happiness in another country, but his return home was dictated not by an attempt to return to his former life but by sincere repentance and a desire to atone for sins. Nevertheless, suddenly for himself, he received much more than he expected and than he ever had.

While the image of the younger son is the image of a repentant sinner, his father reflects divine features. Through it, the reader is shown the main qualities inherent in God: mercy and forgiveness for those who accept their mistakes and are ready to atone for them. That is why the father rejoices so much when the prodigal son returns home. Although there was no news from his son, the father was still waiting. According to the Bible, the goal of human life is union with God, through which real happiness can be achieved. However, for this, a person must go through a particular path, realize themselves, accept their sinfulness and repent, being ready for redemption. That is why God rejoices in remorseful sinners more than in the righteous persons, as they demonstrate personal growth and conscious choice of their path.

Thus, the Parable of the Prodigal Son shows the reader the path to true happiness and the process of finding it. Having received material benefits, the youngest son tries to find delight, indulging in earthly pleasures. However, these temptations only lead to his fall, after which, to survive, he can only repent and return to the righteous path. This return is a true celebration and bestows on him the understanding and love of his true father, God. The search for happiness in this parable is reflected in the form of the wanderings of the youngest son, his personal change, and his return. Thus, it is demonstrated that no earthly blessings can give a person joy and bliss if they are separated from God and left Him. At the same time, the divergence of paths does not mean that a person is deprived of the right to redemption. God is ready to accept back and grant true happiness to all ready to repent and reunite with Him.

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