Unfortunately, the name by which many people call this section of Luke's Gospel - "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" is horrible.
I mean, horrible. On a number of different levels, that title is just plain wrong and misleading.
First of all, it removes the parable from its context, which is the grumbling of religionists. Luke 15 starts with a reminder that many people of bad reputations (tax collectors and sinners) were gathering around Jesus.
People from "the wrong crowd" have always offended people who care more about worship, justice, and religion than about Jesus.
And sure enough, these religionists start grumbling: "this man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Second, it's that grousing that triggered a series of stories, a series of parables from Jesus. Contrary to their misnomers, they are NOT "the" story…