Our gray cat, Earl Grey, has a big brother that is mostly black, and is the alpha-cat. We call him Black Jack.They are gorgeous, almost identical, except Earl is paler.
Jack has devoted himself to developing his dominance of our property during Earl’s recent trip abroad. With Earl’s return, Jack has sulked at our joyfully cuddling his little brother.
You know, the original Prodigal had an older brother. The older brother never strayed, never wavered in his loyalty to the family agenda.
He sulked, too.
It was just an agenda though, that held his loyalty. The family, itself, never entered his mind, we might think, from reading the Parable. He stayed home, labored diligently, amassed wealth, and never even asked for a small bit of food for a party with his friends.
We have to wonder why not.
Had he no time, at all, for people? Was the agenda so vitally important that he never enjoyed one perk, in all that time?
I imagine a stressed and angry man, telling himself that since Junior decided to bolt, all the work fell on him.
I imagine him using a self-imposed workload to excuse anger so abundant and so freely spent, that his few friends cared little for him.
I imagine he worked so hard, partly, because he would never have to share the results.
I imagine he gloried in all he was building for Dad—and that he would inherit.
He was weak.
In the midst of his wealth and strength, he flirted with self-pity, a serious weakness. Self-pity can cause you to forget the important things. It can cause you to forget to feel sad when your brother goes missing and to forget your dad’s sadness. It can cause you to think wealth is most important, to glory in wealth, to devote your life to self-wealth, self-pampering, and self-excusing.
It can cause you to be glad Junior is gone and to act messed up if he returns.
Both brothers suffered from the same problem: self. The younger spent everything on self-gratification. The older saved everything for self-gratification. Neither used wisdom, thought of Dad, nor were good sons.
The saddest thing is that only one repented.
The one who left had decided he would return as a servant, would devote the rest of his time to building Dad’s and Bubba’s wealth. Dad proved his righteous joy and reinstated Junior, but Junior would happily have gone without the robe, ring, and sandals.
He would have been satisfied to wash his brother’s feet, instead.
He would have been satisfied to work the rest of his life building up his brother’s “self”, instead of his own.
I can relate to Junior. Junior returned, physically and emotionally but we have no assurance that Bubba ever did return, emotionally. I’m guessing that from that time on, Junior was all the way home, and Dad knew it.
And Bubba had clean feet, but not much else.