return of the Prodigal Son is a story well-known to Christians and
non-Christians alike. It opens with a young man’s insistence that his rich
father give him his share of the estate before the proper time. He wastes no
time and goes to a tar-off place where he squanders
the money in search of pleasure. However, famine strikes the place where he lives, he is hard pressed to sustain himself, and has no
choice but to take on a job feeding pigs.
downtrodden lad soon realises that this cannot
continue. The owner does not even give him enough food. At this crucial moment,
he has a shock of recognition, packs up, and heads for home, thinking
wishfully. “My father may at least take me in as one of the hired hands.” And
from there, the story comes to a climax at the dramatic show of forgiveness and
love by the father, and the
moving scene where father and son are clasped in a warm embrace. The son was
dead but now is alive, was lost, but now he is found. This story illustrates
the poignant adventure of a sinner: We were still living in sin, but Jesus
Christ received us with open arms when we repented and returned to him.
most of us, the Parable of the Prodigal Son would end happily with a feast and
grand reunion, but the elder brother is another important character needed for
the parable of Jesus to reach greater theological dimensions. The elder son is
not a lazy man, idly enjoying his father’s wealth. Instead, he dutifully works
for his father. When the younger brother is honoured,
he is angry. He appears to be a nice person. But when
he faces this situation his real nature is manifested. The provocation does not
at that moment make him evil. The provocation merely brings to the surface what
is inside him all the time.
allows such unpleasant occasions to come upon our lives so that we are made to
see the corruption of our nature. It is easy for us to consider ourselves
spiritual when circumstances are favourable, but when
we face problems, perhaps harsh criticism or any adverse situation it is easy
to see the ugly ‘ego’.
elder son’s reaction is: “Look! All these years I’ve been labouring
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!” (Lk 15:29,30).
In another word, he was grumbling, “Am I not better than he?” He is full of
self importance and-self righteousness.
though his father comes out and entreats him, he feels that he knows everything
and has worked hard. He is too proud to accept correction. A mixture of
jealousy and anger rules over him.
spirituality is perhaps never so tested as when we are opposed and
contradicted. When we are criticized, the only thing that should concern us is
whether the criticism is true or false; not whether our critic is a friend or
an enemy. Truths might be enunciated from the lips of our opponents.
unyielding, headstrong disposition is a sure mark of egoism. A rigid
self-defensive attitude towards our fellowmen may be reflected in our attitude
towards God. If we are unwilling to be taught and corrected by our brethren, it
only shows how self-centred we are in spite of all
our spiritual experiences and biblical knowledge.
egoist loves to have the attention and admiration of others. He looks for every
opportunity to tell others of what he has done, secretly expecting words of appreciation. He
will be very upset if someone else has done better than he. He does not know
how to take second place graciously and joyfully, and is upset when someone
else is given leadership.
presence of egoism in a worker of God is a great danger. Even in such sacred
activities as preaching, he’ might draw people to his personal accomplishments
instead of the words of God. If self-centredness is
found in a leader, spiritual growth of those to whom he ministers is hindered.
the parable the father’s love is impartial. He loves both his sons. When the
younger son arrives home, he comes out to welcome him; when his elder son
refuses to come in, he also comes out to invite him in with these words of
consolation: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (Lk 15:31). When the elder son intends to condemn, he shows
mercy and compassion.
loves us and wants to give us all that He has. But He wants us to get rid of
self-centredness ‘first God does not love the harlot
more than the self-centred Pharisee. He loves both
equally, for He gave His life for both. And this divine love illuminates our
hearts and makes our life meaningful.