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The Prodigal’s brother

From the October 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Most readers of the Journal are familiar with Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–32), who, after squandering his inheritance on “riotous living,” realizes the folly of his ways and returns to his father’s house, willing to become one of his hired servants. His father sees him from a long way off, comes out to embrace him, and rejoices that his son has returned.

However, the older son and the latter part of the parable are perhaps not so well known. He’s upset when he hears the rejoicing and festivities while he’s busy working in the fields. After all, he’s the one who stayed home, a dutiful, responsible, loyal son—while his younger brother was out wasting his inheritance. Yet this older sibling never received such a feast for his labors. He’s clearly jealous at what he perceives to be the injustice of the situation.

It’s so easy for us to recognize the younger son’s experience: his youthful foolishness in succumbing to the allures of the world, and the penalties such activities inevitably bring. And there’s his subsequent change of thought—a change that brought about repentance, humility, regeneration, and a true reward in his father’s household. It’s something that maybe we’ve all experienced to some degree in our lives. I know I have.

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