The other Son

This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, Year C: the Prodigal Son. The story would be complete as it stands with the return of the prodigal son and the father’s open-armed acceptance. But another story interlocks with this: the story of the elder son who has not appeared in the story. The father has responded to the prodigal son’s return with compassion. How will the elder brother respond?

Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. (vv. 24-26)

In anger, the elder son refuses to join in the celebration, thus physically distancing himself from his family and his own role as elder son in a celebration of this kind. “At such a banquet the older son has a special semi-official responsibility. He is expected to move among the guests, offering compliments, making sure everyone has enough to eat, ordering the servants around and, in general, becoming a sort of major-domo of the feast. [Baily, 294] Continue reading