“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 15.25-30
Today’s feast is double layered.
The first layer is the same feast as last week – the fattened calf has been butchered for a celebration feast for the return of the prodigal son!
However, the second aspect is that of the Older Brother’s hurt – he has never so much as been given a goat to have a feast with his friends.
This picture shows the scene so well, the Father wants to have a good relationship with both his sons, and for that to happen fully he wants them to have a good relationship with one another.
This has several layers, ranging from the personal through to family dynamics, from the political to the humanitarian, through to the global. I can’t help but be reminded again of the prayer of Jesus for all who believe in him in John 17.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
– John 17.20-21