A Prodigal Father had Two Sons...
Luke 15.1-3, 11-32
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. So to them he addressed this parable. “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.” So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
[This homily was told from the perspective of the older son].
Did you hear that story? (pause)
It was my father who welcomed this Jesus to our home. I think the old man has gone a bit soft in the noggin. ‘Cause if this is where religion is going, then I’m losing mine.
But that story he told about the two sons…. Look, I’m not stupid. I’m the older brother. That’s me he’s talking about. No question about it.
It all started a few years ago when my younger brother came to our Father and said, “Look, Pops, I thought you’d be dead by now, but since you’re still up and kicking, I’ve got some wild oats that need sowing; I’ve got people to see, places to go, and women to seduce. I know that you’re not dead yet, but give me what I got coming to me when you go belly-up.”
Well, I said nothing because I couldn’t wait for my father to let him have it. You know, knock his block off.
But do you know what the old man did? He did it! He divided the property between us and gave that spoiled brother of mine everything he wanted!
Well, you can have him. Let the old man love him…. That son of… his. Then he left and I said “Good riddance.” He and went off to The Palms in Egypt and spent himself at Bordellos; he squandered his money on everything else sinful you can imagine; and then went to Pharaoh’s Palace and lost his assets.
But today…oh, yes, today…that son of his comes back in tatters, nearly naked, smelling like he’s been wallowing in a pig sty, looking like fifty shades of stupid – and what’s the old man do?
I didn’t see it, but I heard it was a pathetic sight as the old man went running down the hill out to greet him, slobbering kisses on the little loser.
If it had been me, I would have made him come crawling back to me, begging for mercy. But he wouldn’t have gotten any from me. No sir.
And do you know how I heard about the party? Oh, yeah, there’s a party!
I was out working in the field – slaving away for the old man – as usual – and I heard the sound of music and saw people dancing.
Then I smelled barbecue! It was the fatted calf that we were saving for a very special occasion. I helped fatten that calf! I fed it everyday!
But the old man had it slaughtered and served up for the loser!
It’s all wrong! And now the old man has him as the guest of honor – wearing the best robe, fancy shoes, and the family ring!
And I can hardly bring myself to say it, but the Old man wanted me to be the master of ceremonies for this “Welcome home party” for you-know-who.
Can you believe it? I told him “no way”. I won’t even go in the house and be seen with him and those others.
Why I didn’t even get a kid goat after last year’s harvest, but when that son of his comes home, he kills the fatted calf!
Did I mention the fatted calf?!
To be honest, now I wish the old man was dead because he’s disgraced our family name.
And if he was dead, then I would show that son of his what’s what. Our reputation is now in danger. Look at him in there with that Jesus eating and laughing with all those sinners as if they’re just an important as those of us who keep the law.
The decent and righteous people will write letters to the chief priest. We’ll be put under investigation all because of the old man’s willingness to forgive so much and so freely.
No, my old man is the real prodigal here. Not my brother—he’s not smart enough to be prodigal—he probably doesn’t even know what the word means.
Wait. Here comes my father.
What about * (Cough) My brother? (pause)
He was lost; as good as dead.
I was lost? I stayed home…
I stayed home and hated every minute of it? Well, if you put it like that, yes, I suppose you’re right.
But look at all I do for you! I do everything I’m told.
But this son of yours— I mean my brother - look at all his sins!.....
Oh… I’m obsessing over his sins. Well someone has to!
What do you mean I sound jealous? I followed every rule religiously!
I wasn’t the one out carousing with harlots and publicans!
Look, Old Man, you never once threw me a party –
I never asked.
Yes, but the fatted calf? We were saving it for a very –
(pause) Oh. This is that very special occasion.
I am always with you? Well, yes… (pause)
But this mercy thing has gone too far!....
What? Not far enough?! You’ve got to be kidding.
You’re waiting for me to offer a toast? For my brother!
No. I cannot. I will not join such frivolous feasting! …..
I Must?... Must celebrate?
What should I do? ….. (pause)
(To the people and pause)
What should we do?....
Our Father is waiting for our response.