Jesus was criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners – people who, in his society, were socially and politically outcast. Just like the younger son in the parable, they had lost their community, their status and, in many cases, their self-respect. Jesus welcomed them into his life just as the father welcomed back his extravagantly wasteful son. But it is the father in the story who is most extravagant. Even before his son has arrived or offered any apology the father rushes out and lavishes him with love. The embrace, shoes, and ring are all signs of restoration to full status in the family. (Slaves went barefoot.) When the son blurts out an apology the father responds with a party – a feast of forgiveness. The faithful elder son is furious at his brother’s reconciliation. But the father remains steadfast in loving them both. Whether the elder brother goes to the party or whether the brothers reconcile is left an open question by Jesus.