A letter to my prodigal brother

Last Friday at our Men’s Prayer Group meeting, at the very end of the meeting, I offered a spiritual exercise in the light of the Sunday gospel – the Prodigal Son. The exercise was to write a letter to one of the characters in the parable. Here is one of the letters that was sent to me. It is an interesting Lenten reflection for all of us. My homily of yesterday was essentially my letter and reflection. Here is another. If other’s share their thoughts, I will post them.

To my wayward, screwed up little bro: I must say I am more than a little annoyed and disappointed with your recent return from your far too-short-of-a sojourn. Just when things were returning to normal on our estate, you decide to show up! Since your abrupt departure for your life in the fast and loose lane, the lion’s share of the back-breaking farm work has been on whose shoulders?  I learned that you had resurfaced when I was returning from the fields and heard the commotion of a celebration.

My annoyance with your reentry quickly turned to anger when I learned of a gourmet meal being prepared in your honor and how you crawled back into dad’s lap and good graces. The kicker for me was the sight of you, replete with dirty feet, stinky tunic, smelling like pig manure and your plaintiff cry for mercy: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ Seriously? Really? Nice try!

As you may have heard, this whole drama made me very angry, and I refused to enter the house. Dad came out and pleaded with me to join the merriment. Not me! I gave him an earful; shared with him that, for all these years I served him and not once did I disobey his order; yet he never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when you waltzed back into the picture after blowing your inheritance partying heartily, he slaughters the fattened calf.’ What’s up with that? Dad’s explanation: ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

For me, the jury is out with you, little brother. Once the party is over and the fatted calf devoured, it is back in the fields for your life as an indentured servant. Enough of you and the platitudes about sorry and begging for forgiveness. Now it is time for you to “walk the talk” and show us your stuff. Our father may be foolish and naïve enough to forgive and welcome you back but I’m a different story.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me; twice, shame on me.

Respectfully, big brother

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