The Older Son
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
- Luke 15:25-29
Jesus wraps up his most famous story, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with the story of the prodigal son's brother, who is also lost. The older brother is lost at home. Renowned author and monk Henri Nouwen sees it this way:
The younger son sinned in a way we can easily identify. His lostness is quite obvious. He misused his money, his time, his friends, his own body. ...The lostness of the older son, however, is much harder to identify... I wonder which does more damage, lust or resentment? ...The lostness of the resentful ‘saint’ is so hard to reach precisely because it is so closely wedded to the desire to be good and virtuous.”
- The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri J.M. Nouwen
Can you relate to the older son - are you more tempted by being judgmental than being wild at a party? Do you struggle with pride, wishing others wouldn't be so overtly sinful? Do you feel self-righteous because other people struggle with the sins you used to face? Ponder the religious sins you're tempted into and talk with God about those today.