While the parable of the Prodigal Son, so familiar to many of us, is perhaps meant to tell of the relationship between God, Israel and the Gentile world, its sheer humanity works on many levels, not least the personal. It is difficult not to feel the intense and desperate love the father has towards both his children. Who could fail to be moved by it? This is our God.
Cuthbert is both a pastoral and a monastic bishop. In this, he follows in the footsteps of one of his, and Bede’s, favourite Fathers of the Church, St Gregory the Great – the first Pope from a monastic background. Despite having a diocese that stretches from the East coast to the West, and travelling generally by foot, he still finds time to visit individual parishioners. In this story, Bede deliberately draws the parallel with Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law in Matthew’s Gospel. Bede is telling us this is what it looks like to be a true disciple of Christ in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria.