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  • Sarah Raad

Elder

And I have been thinking about this LOVE of the Father...Because my Father came out of the celebration to invite me in...

The Prodigal Son in the Tavern (Rembrandt)

I have been reflecting upon the story of the prodigal son over the last few weeks.


“…There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. … When he came to his senses… he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him… So they began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing… 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… ‘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.’”


Since the time I was a little girl, I have very easily remembered the behaviour of the younger son… Firstly, he asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive – which was the equivalent to wishing his father dead. Secondly, he wasted all that inheritance – basically the entire financial earnings of his father’s long life – on things that were worthless, fleeting and rotten. And thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – he returned to his father’s house full of remorse, willing even to accept a position as servant…

And yet, over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on the behaviour of the elder son much more than that of the younger… You see, I have come to realise that in the life that I lived prior to my conversion – which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own – I was that elder son… You see, the elder son followed all the rules – and so did I. He did all the right things and he stayed with his Father and he obeyed Him – and I did this too, with every Mass, and Sacrament that I received through my whole life... But the elder son did all of these things without LOVE. He did not act out of a sense of LOVE, he acted out of a sense of DUTY!

And what a terrible thing that really is. Because DUTY is begrudging and it does not welcome… When his brother who had been lost had been found – the elder brother did not run out to embrace him as their father did. Instead, he got angry and had a bit of a sulk. Effectively, the elder brother resented all the “fun” that his younger brother had been having while he had stayed at home doing his duty…


And I have been thinking about the reaction of the elder son, because his reaction was riddled with hatred and jealousy – for in essence, where there is no love there can be no welcoming…


And yet – just as the Father ran out to greet the younger son, so too did He leave the celebration to educate and invite the elder one.


You see, the Father never acted out of DUTY – He only ever acted out of LOVE. And LOVE runs down the road to greet His wayward son, and LOVE leaves the celebration to invite his angry son in to join them.


And I have been thinking about this LOVE of the Father... Because my Father came out of the celebration to invite me in... And somehow – through Grace and no merit of my own – that invitation of the Father, the invitation that He made to me while I was standing outside the door of the celebration, taught me more of LOVE than I could ever put into words…


How awesome in my Lord and God – King of the Universe – who leaves the celebration to reason the anger out of my heart. How awesome in my Lord and God…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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