In the story of the prodigal son, there are actually two sons. In a way, they are both sinners. The youngest son is the obvious sinner; he takes his inheritance and wastes it away in loose living, spending it on partying and prostitutes. The oldest son is not perfect either. Maybe the oldest son’s sin is that he thinks he is perfect. He has been the model child. He has held down the fort, done the hard work, day after day.
Where it all breaks down is when the Sinner with a capital S comes home, and Daddy dear extends the red carpet welcome. This is just too much for the oldest son to bear. He marches with indignation right up to his father and starts laying out the facts, “I’ve done this, I’ve done that…He’s done the other thing!” And then it all boils down to “And you are treating him better than you are treating me.” Envy. He wants what his brother is getting. In fact he is so envious he can’t even talk about his brother, he talks about him as “your son”.
We’ve been focussing on confessions through these weeks of Lent. In this story the sinner with a capital S does provide a confession, but the other brother, the brother with the envy problem, the brother with the big clipboard, who has kept track of every good thing he has ever done, and every bad thing his brother has ever done—this brother does not confess. In fact, the story is open-ended. Will the older brother join the party? He is invited!
Come to church prepared to think about how we fit into this story!
This weeks’ prayer: Open our hearts to really think about this story, to see ourselves in this story, to see You as the Father who loves us all.