What the Elder Son Teaches Us

It was another soccer tournament weekend. It’s Monday and back to work, where at least the schedule is more predictable.

At least the games were spaced so I could catch church on Sunday.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn

The Gospel was the story of the Prodigal Son, which is often dissatisfying because it just doesn’t seem fair.

If the Prodigal Son story played out today, I’m sure there would be at least one lawsuit.

Our deacon gave the homily, and pointed out that the son who stayed home figured may not have merely been loyal and altruistic. The way he looked at it, he was taking care of his upcoming inheritance, so in effect, he was working for himself. Since he was focused on what he expected to get, he didn’t realize and appreciate all the things he had every day.

However, what he said next was what struck me. The deacon suggested that every night when the family gathers for dinner, we should start a litany of all the things we have to be thankful for. He suggested starting small, with such things as life, spouse, children. Each day add a couple of more things. By the end of Lent we may all realize just how blessed we are.

I thought it was a good enough idea that I should share it.

2 responses to “What the Elder Son Teaches Us

  1. I intend to keep a gratitude journal soon. Just a list of things I am grateful for, everyday.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. The parable of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament Gospel of Luke 15: 11 has always intrigued and delighted me. On a very personal level, it asks the question of me: Is it joy that makes me grateful, or gratitude that makes me joyful? Is there a paradox here like “Must I be a happy person to be happy?

    I’d respectfully submit that most of us today are like the “wayward son.”
    In our youth, we perhaps squandered loads of money on clothes, cars,
    stereos, and hoards of other stuff we wanted but never needed. And we went back home to mom and dad either for a loan, for consultation, or
    just to crash until we could come back to our senses.

    The story of the Prodigal Son is not really about the son who stayed home, rather the son who left, spent all of his dad’s bucks, found himself with nothing but time to contemplate the errors of his ways, and learned he
    had to do three things to pull himself up from his malestrom: 1) Repent
    (change his mind and ways); 2) Physically walk all the way back to his father’s ranch and to his father; and 3) Ask his father for forgiveness specifically for what he had done.

    Yes, we should be grateful and even joyful for the many blessings bestowed
    upon us and our loved ones. The story of the Prodigal Son offers us one more thought: God is not loved “without” reward: God is loved without the “thought” of reward.

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