I have struggled with the story of the Prodigal Son all my life.
It’s comparatively easy to acknowledge my identification with the wastrel younger son, who departs on a crazy adventure, squanders his inheritance, and returns to unexpected forgiveness and welcome. Sins of excess, of foolishness, of confusion, are easy enough to recognize and own. Even if no one actually throws a party to celebrate my repentance, confessing those kinds of sins is an immediate relief. Releasing them is permanently pleasurable.
Harder is to own how I embody the sins of the older brother. I am an upright citizen: conscientious, hardworking, and responsible. The resentment and slow-burning rage that grow from feeling insufficiently rewarded and honored for my wonderfulness are much more difficult sins to root out. Because the elder brother hasn’t heedlessly strayed away from home, he doesn’t recognize how far he has traveled from the father. That desolation requires a more complex journey in order to return to love and joy.
The father tells the older brother what he needs to awaken to: “All that is mine is yours.” And what does the father have, exactly? Endless compassion, and forgiveness, and welcome.
The father has love.
And love is all we need.
Only if it’s not likely to
Can the believed-in happen.
— James McMichael
Saturday, February 27, 2016