Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Return of the Eldest Son

 “There was once a man who had two sons." 

I had read the story of the prodigal son a very many time and heard beautiful homilies from the pulpit a thousand times over... but the story never sang to me.

One was the elder and one was the younger.
There was the obedient and there was the rebel.

Even after my heart's conversion; I knew I had walked the prodigal son's broken path and came home after much barrenness... but even then the story never spoke to me.

My selfishness and arrogance, I was aware. I still remember the times I told the Father, the ancient curse behind my demand for independence- I wish you were dead.

But the Love of God rescued me and I felt the soft mantle of the Father's robe as I pressed my heart into His. Then I heard his agonizing cry...

"My heart won't let me do it, my Love for you is too strong

I continued my journey with God till I finally saw the Eldest Son was I. 

"but this son of yours..."

I am the eldest in my family and I know better than others the heavy responsibility to care for the younger while young myself. I knew better than others the pain of being favoured under and disciplined harsher. In my minds eye,  I saw it run through out the Bible, I saw younger being greatly loved. Jacob over Esau, Joseph apart from his 11 brothers, David ahead his brothers,  Mary before Martha and John, beloved of the Lord. 

The Eldest Son, did all things right and true to his father, so much so he despised his brother for having made the foolish choice. Deep in his heart, it was not the property but laud he gave himself for adhering to his father's rule. Such self-discipline is truly admirable but it made him proud. It gave him a seat of judgement, a throne. His brother's disobedience, heightened his obedience. He never waited with his father for his brother's return.

And many were the times, I judged others. Not consciously but in my attitude. Protestants with dodgy theology, homosexuals, casanovas and weak-willed politicians... my brothers who I despised. My own who I could not acknowledge as mine. Who I begrudged the Father's patience and his mercy.

But the Father loved them both

This is where the parable began to make sense to me. The Father asks for one thing and one thing alone- Love. 

The father in the parable was already old and infirm,nearly blind, he had already died a thousand deaths and waited for his lost son to return. To a man who has seen death face to face, the past and hoary remembrances do not matter. Only the beloved does. The light of his eyes was gone, but the light of his spirit had grown acute. In his very spirit, he sensed his son's return.  With this light, he saw his youngest from afar. 

I only saw the erring and the fallen. Coming into the Light helps you recognise the obvious which those who are steeped in sin do not. My calling was to love them into return. My calling was to love the wounded who did not how how to return. My calling was to rejoice with the Father when my lost brother returned. But for that I needed to love into dying to myself. Like the Father who loved man so much as to give up his greatest Love, his only Son to redeem us. 

It is the paradox of love, when you have lost everything, you have everything to give. When one is nothing, then one can love truly those who are nothing. 

When I understood this, I returned to the banquet to celebrate my brother's return.