“’My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
The story of the Prodigal Son is one that strongly resonates with many of us. We can easily picture a suddenly energized father running down the hill after seeing his long lost son heading towards the home. The image warms our hearts and reminds us there is Father waiting for us, longing for the day when one of his wayward children returns to him. It is beautifully moving and loving; but, there is another element of that picture, one that is rarely explored but just as deeply relevant. That is image is the second son.
This was the good son, the one who stayed with his father. He worked the fields, managed the home, and supported his father. He made plans for the future health of the home, herd, and field. And he stood to the side and watched as portions of his hard work were given away in one quick moment and to his runaway brother no less! Yet as the celebration of the brother’s return continued, the second son and the father remained. Sensing his son’s turmoil, the father moved to reassure him, reminding him that although he remained, his brother who had been lost had finally returned.
Although he is not the most known figure in this story, many of us can relate to the second son. We spend our time doing the right thing; we take care of our families, act as responsible citizens, and prepare for our futures. But we cannot help but find ourselves feeling bitter or jealous when others reap benefits we feel should maybe ours.
God reminds us though that His riches, the wealth of His love, belong to all of us. It is not earned and we cannot lose sight of that. The wayward and the good will be redeemed whether we have stayed with Him always or simply returned. There will come a day when we are called to share the outcome of our hard work and may have to do that just that.