Some people refer to this parable as the parable of the lost son, in keeping with the two preceding parables about the lost sheep and the lost coin. The younger son and father in their estrangement from each other are indeed lost. And perhaps it is not too far-fetched to consider that the elder son is also lost. He may feel lost from the father’s love, lost in resentment of his brother.
But the father runs to meet his older son just as he ran to meet the younger. He does not offer an immediate “fix” for his son’s feelings and perceptions. He listens to the older son, letting him vent his frustration and anger. “This son of yours [and we could add our own, ‘this daughter, this friend . . . ’]” indicating his unwillingness to accept his brother back into the family. The father listens and does not argue or disagree with the son’s assessment.
Many of us would understand if the father lost his temper just this once. If he got even a little upset with one of his sons, I wouldn’t blame him. Instead, he responds to the elder son’s pain and hurt with compassion and persuasion. He refers to his elder son as teknon, a word we would translate from the Greek as “child.” We may interpret it as a term of affection that affirms their familial relationship. In the Filipino language of Tagalog, I would use the word mahal, a term that expresses a deep love of the other.
The father pleads with the elder son, extending compassion and inviting him to the party. He attempts to confirm family ties by referring to “this brother of yours.” We don’t know the elder son’s decision. How would you respond?

Loving God, thank you for your incredible grace. May the life I lead reflect the grace you offer every day. Amen.


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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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