Am I the Older Brother?

“My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”  Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
    Reflection by Makena Clawson, Christ in the City

       When we consider the parable of the Prodigal Son, we often ponder just that: the Prodigal Son. But what about the two other characters, the good Father and the older brother?

I am the older brother. Not having had a radical conversion, I identify with the older brother who stayed on his Father’s land his whole life, but maybe never appreciated it. The older brother is bitter and angry when the younger son returns after his life of debauchery away from the Father’s house. How come he is welcomed back so quickly? I’ve put in so much effort and received no reward! 

The older brother wanted to leave the house many times, but didn’t. We may not have physically left the Father’s house, but what about in our hearts? I left through pride, bitterness, and grumbling about the benefits I’d have if I did leave. And now the younger son who has done what I always wanted to do, returns. How could I welcome him back? He, who got a taste of the outside world and returned without consequences?

As a Christ in the City missionary, I work with the homeless everyday. I go out to the street to meet and talk with people who are normally ignored. I meet people who are broken, ashamed, and want so badly to return to the Father’s house. They have left and now “feel the pinch” as the Gospel says. How do I welcome them back? Am I the older brother who refuses to welcome them? Have I realized the gift that it is to be in the Father’s house?

Dear Lord, 

You call all of us back to Your house. I have strayed in big 
ways and in small ways. Please welcome me back. I know Your
 mercy is bigger than my pride. Help me to not be afraid to run
 back to You every time I stray. 

Lord, help me to welcome back those who have left your 
house. Help me to not hold any bitterness against them or You. 
Please give me a humble heart to realize I have left You many 
times, too. Please forgive me. 
I love You, Lord. 


Focus on: Simple Living

    The younger brother left his Father’s house to spend all of the inheritance. Am I intentional about how I spend my money? Do I waste the valuable resources God has given me? Think of one expense you can do without this week, maybe coffee out, a trip to the mall, or dining out.

Service Suggestion:

Overcome the pride of the older brother by serving and welcoming others different from yourself. Try serving the homeless at a local shelter or soup kitchen. After you have served, go around and meet the patrons, asking their name and having a conversation to get to know them. (This is the most important part!)

This reflection is part of our Lenten Series – Download the Lenten Guide Here

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