The Prodigal Son
December 12, 2022
Filed In: Faith
The story of the prodigal son is a famous one because of its relatability. We’ve all acted foolishly, like the prodigal. We’ve also experienced that deep love and relief that touches us through reconciliation. While the prodigal son well known, few of us have spent time thinking about his brother.
Jesus uses the imagery of parents and sibling many times throughout his ministry. There are the two brothers who the father asks to go into the field, one who agrees and never leaves, the other that refuses but eventually goes. There are the sisters, Mary and Martha, one preoccupied with temporal things, the other ready to rest in God’s presence. All throughout the Old Testament, we see stories of siblings working together and, more often, fighting.
The prodigal son tells his father that he’s dead to him, takes his inheritance, and dibs. His brother, however, stays. We read near the end about how this “good” son stayed and worked for his father, but we also get a glimpse of the brokenness of this parental relationship. The good son is resentful when he sees how well his brother is treated upon his return. It’s almost as if he stayed with his father, but couldn’t stand to be with him.
There’s plenty more to unpack in this parable. The Bible is relatively short, so every word and image stands for more than one thing. But I think it reminds us of the relationship that God wants with us. He doesn’t just want us to pray, but to pray actively. He doesn’t want us to just go to Mass every week, but to go joyfully. He doesn’t want us to just pick up our cross, but to embrace it.
Heaven is eternal life with God, so what does it say if we would rather not spend time with Him in prayer today?