Full 40 minute performance, recorded live at Ballintubber Abbey in Co. Mayo, an original music composition based on the parable of The Prodigal Son performed by the group – Le Chéile. Le Chéile was a collaboration of The Kells from the US, the famous Belfast band, McPeake, and Chicago’s talented Irish-American fiddle and tin whistle virtuoso, Kathleen Keane.
Inspired by Luke’s Gospel,1 The Prodigal tells the story of a family: the pain when it is pulled apart and the joy when it is re-united. It is told primarily from two perspectives, that of a young prodigal who abandons his/her family and a loving parent who has been rejected.
Away from home the prodigal ‘lives large’. Excessive self-indulgence however leads to loss of self-control and the prodigal’s addictive behaviour results in powerlessness and poverty. Abandoned by friends and enslaved by others the broken prodigal recalls the family s/he abandoned and hears its heartfelt call to ‘Come Home’.
At home during all this time, life albeit tinged with loss, continues. Hope for the prodigal’s return remains ever-present and a watch is maintained. When the prodigal does eventually return, the parent’s joy is beyond words: words are not needed, reconciliation is an act, a festive act.
Not everyone however is over-joyed at the prodigal’s return. An older brother, unconscious of his own spiritual poverty feels aggrieved at the festive treatment being lavished upon the returning waster. He has yet to receive the grace to be able to appreciate what the parent is teaching and what his younger sibling has learned: self-centredness (‘What about me?’) is soul-destroying. True joy, true freedom, one’s full humanity is only realised in loving others for the love of God. It is ‘in giving one receives’.2
1 Luke 15: 11-32
2 St Francis of Assisi