Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 3: Story - The Prodigal Son

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you can present it effectively.
  • Optional: Copy the story for all participants.
  • Optional: Plan to invite youth to act out the story.

Description of Activity

Youth apply the virtue of compassion to a biblical story.

Tell or read the story.

If you have time, invite youth to act out the story, with as much melodrama as they wish.

Lead a discussion:

  • What virtues does the father exhibit? What about the older son? What about the youngest?
  • This story is often used to illustrate forgiveness. However, this translation does not say the father forgave the younger son. It says he felt compassion. The son humbled himself and asked for forgiveness. But, did the father feel that was necessary? What is the connection between forgiveness and compassion?
  • Have you ever been moved to compassion by someone who hurt you? What allowed you to feel compassion? Did your compassion lead to forgiveness? What did that feel like? In hindsight, are you glad you were moved by compassion?
  • This is a parable told by Jesus. When he told it, whom did the father represent? Who are the sons?
  • This story is also about unconditional love, called “agape.” Some religions teach that God loves all people unconditionally, and that although we sometimes love imperfectly, we are to emulate God. What is the connection between love and compassion?