Two groups are singled out in the gospel, tax-collectors and sinners. Tax-collectors were hated because they worked for the despised Roman occupiers and exacted their wages from their compatriots. People whose occupations prevented them from regular observance of the Law were considered sinners. These were the people who came to hear Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes, who dealt with the Law, criticised Jesus for the company he kept. The parable has a double focus. While it is clearly about the mercy God shows repentant sinners (the younger brother), it also contrasts God’s openness with the closed-mindedness of those who consider themselves faithful (the older brother). The picture of the father shatters the traditional patriarchal image and offers us a radically different picture of fatherhood, a picture that was totally incomprehensible to both sons.