The Parable of the Younger Prodigal and his Big Brother

When I was growing up, I have been generally a good boy. I followed orders from authority figures. I have been obedient to my parents and teachers. Because of that, there was a sense of righteousness in me. I would tend to dislike violators and even seek those classmates who would violate rules and regulations and then demand that they should be punished. 

This attitude was also shown in the way I related with my younger brother. I felt that I was more deserving of more love and praise from my parents than my younger brother who would tend to fail in his exams.

It was so selfish that I couldn’t see how my younger brother was struggling and in fact needed more help and support. I just wanted to have all the praises of my parents. I only understood the situation when my mother told me that as a KUYA, I too have the responsibility to look after my brother. As a brother I should support him in whatever way possible because he was struggling in his studies. I should reach out rather than judge him of being lazy.  I should be generous in understanding him because that was what he needed.

This attitude makes our heart unwelcoming of those who commit mistakes and failures in their life. This makes us insensitive to the struggles of others in not giving them the chances to change and to redeem themselves.

This is also the attitude of the older brother in this Gospel story. This older brother who was a very good son, responsible and righteous seemed to be so rigid in his relationship with his brother.

One would argue that the brother’s feeling was just right because he had been very good while his younger brother had been so wasteful and irresponsible. However, Jesus wants us to realize something beyond from the consciousness of the older brother, whose heart have grown old. Jesus wants us to see how the Father’s love manifested in this story.

God sees us beyond our sins and failures. God sees hope in each of us. 

This is revealed in the character of the Father whose love remained unchanged despite the failure and sin of his younger son. The Father also saw the goodness of his older son in spite of his insecurity and self-righteousness. Hence, the Father also wanted his older son to realize the kind of love he has for both of them. That love is unconditional. His love gives hope and gives another chance.

The Father then, invites his son to learn that kind of love, to become forgiving, to become understanding, to be life-giving in offering hope and many chances for those who failed in their life.

This is the invitation for us. We might tend to be the righteous older brother who will condemn those who are weak and imperfect, who will think that those who have sinned are beyond hope and beyond repair. Jesus wants us to learn the Father’s love in the way we relate with others especially with those who have failures and mistakes in their life. Jesus invites us to see and relate with one another in the way the Father loves us by being able to reach out to others.

Thus, let us be aware in the way we relate with those who have failed in whatever aspect that may be in their life. As friends or siblings, raise the spirits of those friends or family members who have become hopeless in their lives because of their addictions and other failures by giving them hope for change and for a better self. In this way, may each of us become the Father’s instrument of mercy and renewal.

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