Jesus begins this famous parable by telling the story of a father who had two sons. It seems that the younger of the sons asked for his portion of the family estate for he wanted to be completely independent of his father. Now the father did not argue with the son or ask him what he was going to do but divided his portion to him.
The young man, who now felt free to do as he pleased, took the money his father gave him and went into a far country. This “far country” represents a state of separation from the source of life. We travel into this far country when we separate ourselves from Spirit and try to go entirely on our own, as though we were isolated beings.
The young man soon wasted his substance in riotous living but when he had spent everything “a great famine arose in that land” and he found himself in want. A famine always arises when we separate ourselves from daily communion with the Spirit. It is then that we begin to be in want. The waters of our individual lives soon dry up when we separate ourselves from the well-spring of all being.
Having exhausted his resources the prodigal son was compelled to sell his services to a citizen of the far country into which he had traveled and soon he was sent into the field to feed swine. Perhaps the Master used this comparison to show what a complete state of destitution the once well-cared for young man had fallen into. Jesus was talking to those who held the meat of swine to be unholy. Therefore, he was placing the plight of the young man in the worst possible light, he had fallen to such low estate that he was a complete social outcast.