Here is the text of the story we used in our first family session.

Jesus told a story about a father who had two sons.

The younger son didn’t like being at home. He didn’t really hear when his father told him he loved him by providing him with the food he ate. He was bored. “Why am I still here with nothing much to do?” the son asked himself. He didn’t really hear when his father told him he loved him by buying him the clothes he needed. He wanted excitement. “Why am I still here when I could be out in the world enjoying myself?” he asked himself. He didn’t hear when his father told him he loved him by sharing with him everything he had. He wanted to leave. “When my father is dead, I’ll get half of what he has. Why don’t I ask for that money now? Why should I wait for him to die?” the son asked himself. He didn’t hear when his father said he loved him.

And so the younger son went to his father. “Father” he said “I want to leave. I’m bored. I want to see the world and party. Soon you will die but I can’t wait fir that to happen. I want my inheritance now” What an awful thing to say!

The father was heart-broken. He had said “I love you” in all sorts of ways. In the way he had brought his son up, in all he had shared with him, in every “good morning” and “it’s good to see you”. In every look and smile. Every time he had to teach his son something he had said “I love you.” But the son hadn’t listened and so the father, sadly gave him the money and let him go.

And so the son left home and went to a foreign land. There he heard lots of voices.
“We love you if you buy us things”
“You can be our friend if you take us to a party.”
“We’ll be friends with you, as long as you are fun”
“We like you if you spend your money.”

All the people he met told him they liked him, he was fun, he was great. However very soon the son’s money ran out. Then the people who had liked him seemed to not be around so much. In fact he hadn’t heard them for days. He was penniless and alone in a strange country. He was far from home and far from the one person who told the truth when he said “I love you” No ifs. No as long as. The father’s voice always just said “I love you”. But the Son was too far away from home to hear it.