The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

by Henri J. M. Nouwen


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The bestselling Henri Nouwen title of all time! Over a million copies sold world wide. Essential reading for Christians, Catholics, and all spiritual seekers.

For all who ask, "Where has my struggle led me?" or for those "on the road" who have had the courage to embark on the journey but seek the illumination, this work will inspire.

A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt's depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son's return, the father's restoration of sonship, the elder son's vengefulness, and the father's compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, capativating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.

"The Return of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful book, as beautiful in the simple clarity of its wisdom as in the terrible beauty of the transformation to which it calls us." —New Oxford Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385473071
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/1994
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 25,721
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, and pastor, who gained international renown as the author of over 30 books on the spiritual life, including such classics as The Wounded Healer, The Inner Voice of Love, and Reaching Out. Nouwen's books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold upwards of seven million copies worldwide, resonating with people across the religious, spiritual, cultural, and political spectrum. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers, and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy.

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Return of the Prodigal Son 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nouwen so artfully walks the reader through the parable of the Prodigal Son and finds ways in which each key figure in the story (the son, the brother, and the father) relate to our own lives. It is perfectly rounded out in translating the story into what God is calling us to without being judgmental or "preachy". This book is a wonderful, insightful, and inspiring read regardless of whether one has study theology or is newly considering issues of faith. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books written by Fr. Henri Nouwen. It grieved me to hear the many times Hillary Clinton promotes this book, distorting its spirit and meaning, claiming it helped her forgive what others did to her. The very beauty of this book is that Fr. Nouwen writes mainly about how his pride, ego, hurt others, and how he had to come to terms with these unspiritual aspects. His honesty is awe-inspiring, his humility refreshing. A book to re-read. His insights are truly a blessing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is especially interesting because it approaches this often-told story from more than one angle, and by doing so, gives it new meaning. In doing so, it fleshes out each of the major characters in this parable, allowing those who read it to see it in a new light.
MSII More than 1 year ago
Father Nouwen does a really good job of reflecting on and disecting the details of one of the most well known Biblical parables. This is truly a great reflection that helps the reader to overcome their own transgressions that they might face. I highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is my favorite Henri Nouwen book, so far. Fr. Nouwen's tone is conversational and very easy to read, but it draws you deep into this well-known parable. As I read, I would often just have to pause and ponder as yet another of his thoughts seemed to speak directly to me. This is a book I cannot stop thinking about. I know I'll read it again and again throughout my life, and I know I will find something different jumping out at me each time I do.
-solideogloria- More than 1 year ago
Nouwen reflects upon his encounter with the Rembrandt painting of the Prodigal Son and brings both the painting and the biblical parable to life. A delightful read.
LH2011 More than 1 year ago
Nouwen artfully guides us to identify first with the Prodigal Son and then with the Elder Brother. The twist is for us to identify with the Prodigal's Father. In the parable the father is a type of God, but Nouwen skillfully makes the case that Christians are to be vulnerable as parents are to grown children. Nouwen is no theoretician--the story is one of a very personal homecoming. I believe it is valuable for Christian discipleship residences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
He does it again with his wonderful writing. Thoe familiar with Nouwen will not be disappointed.
subdudeDH More than 1 year ago
This is one the most inspiring books that I have read in a very long time. Nouwen looks at this parable from every angle and makes it meaningful for everyone. Each of us can identify with the characters of Jesus' parable. It is a truly wonderful piece of writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book gives you a different way to view your christian faith
janiep on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspiring and beautifully written.
megamommy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book filled with simple and profound truth.
hollysing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on the New Testament parable of the Prodigal son. The potency of forgiveness.
seoulful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Henri Nouwen, from the depths of his own struggles, is able to draw from Rembrandt's famous painting, "The Return of the Prodigal Son," many valuable lessons for the reader. After hours of examination of and meditation upon the painting, Nouwen was able to see how he, himself, was not only the younger and the elder brother, but in the end called to be the father. The younger brother was immature and made foolish choices, but the father welcomed him home with joy and without conditions or scolding. The elder brother did everything right, but in a wrong spirit, and yet the father went to him in deep love and generosity. We see here the love of our Heavenly Father who accepts and forgives us in the same way--a love that Nouwen was so desperately searching for. And finally, Nouwen saw how we are called to move on from being children to display the characteristics of a father, "who has transcended the ways of his children" and can be of use in a world hungry for love and acceptance.
jenndiggy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I almost feel bad giving this a bad review since so many people have loved it, but I was disappointed in it. I'd heard so many wonderful things about it, and then when I read it, I was looking forward to the end of it. I personally thought he focused a little too much on the painting and while I wouldn't have minded some mentioning of the painting, I almost thought the talk of the painting was to help stretch the book into a longer length. While this is an all time favorite book of one of my friends, I can't say the same for myself even though I went into reading it very much ready to enjoy it!
LTW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming is a spiritual adventure story. A chance encounter with a poster depicting a detail of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son set in motion a chain of events that enabled Nouwen to redefine and claim his vocation late in his life. In this book, which interweaves elements of art history, memoir, Midrash, and self-help, Nouwen brings the parable to life with empathic analyses of each character. Nouwen's absorption in the story (and the painting) is so complete that the father's challenge to love the son, and the son's challenge to receive that love, become Nouwen's own. And Nouwen's writing is so clear and his tone is so appealingly frank and humble that readers--no matter how far from home--will find hope for themselves in the prodigal peace Nouwen ultimately achieves. --Michael Joseph Gross
kylepotter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nouwen's meditations on Rembrandt's painting and Luke's Parable of the Prodigal Son provide a rich resource for looking afresh at the biblical narrative and engaging on a personal basis with the heart of God. You must read this book!
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