How the older brother reacted in the prodigal son parable


The parable of the prodigal son might be the most well-known parables in Scripture. I had thought something a lot lately, and have now been inspired to post it on here. The older brother is very upset that his younger brother is treated how he is when he comes home again. He is also largely obedient to his father. His father tells him to stop working and join the celebration for his brother, and the parable ends. It doesn’t say whether he obeys his father. The older brother also doesn’t sound very convinced at what his father says to him. I doubt it really matters whether he did, since it isn’t really the point. Do you think the older son listened to him? Have you ever thought whether he went to it?


All I know is that it is a metaphor for cradle believers and those who come to faith late in life.
Everyone is welcome at the table.
From the time they are Baptized they have a birthright to the Eucharist.
All are welcome. We should not begrudge the sinner who comes to faith and repentance on his deathbed. Not the “new” parishioner". Nor the convert. Nor the “new priest”. Nor the elderly.
Christ welcomes all His prodigal people HOME.


The older brother goes to Hell.

He walked outside and refused to come back in because he was angry that his brother was forgiven after what he had done.


Ver. 22. The first; i.e. the best robe: by it, is meant the habit of grace. (Witham)

Ver. 24. Was dead, and is come to life again. A sinner, in mortal sin, is deprived of the divine grace, which is the spiritual life of the soul. At his conversion it is restored to him, and he begins to live again. (Witham)

Ver. 25. His elder son, &c. We have already remarked, that this son represents the Jews. He boasts of having always served his father faithfully, and of never disobeying him. This is the language of that presumptuous people, who believe themselves alone holy; and despising the Gentiles with sovereign contempt, could not bear to see the gates of salvation laid open also to them. The 28th, 29th, and 30th verses express admirably the genius of the Jewish people; particularly his refusing to enter his father’s house, shews their obstinacy. (Calmet)

Ver. 29. I have never transgressed, &c. With what face could the Jews, represented here by the eldest son, say they have never transgressed the commandments of their father? This made Tertullian think that this was not the expression of the Jews, but of the faithful Christians; and, therefore, he interprets the whole parable as applied to a disciple of Christ. But we should recollect, that it is not uncommon for presumption to boast of what it never has done. The whole history of the Jews is full of numberless details of their prevarication and disobedience. (Calmet) — A kid, &c. The Jews demanded a kid, but the Christians a lamb; therefore was Barabbas set at liberty for them, whilst for us the lamb was immolated. (St. Ambrose)


I never thought of it that way. I thought it was referring to those who follow God’s law and are upset that sinners are granted mercy when they repent.
I’ve been both (the older brother and the younger brother) and I shouldn’t behave like the older brother but grateful that God is so merciful to us sinners especially those who repent.



…yeah, this is one of those ‘what if’ scenarios.

We can’t tell; though while many fault him, I fully understand him. He did exactly what was expected of him (obedient son) and he remained at his father’s side even when the younger son departed with money to burn. He was so respectful that he didn’t even ask for an animal (sheep/goat) to make merry with his friends…

Yet, he missed the point. His father told him that all that he has is his; all he has to do is ask the father and the father would give his Blessings. At the return of the younger son, the father is joyful for getting his son back; yet, the older brother could not understand the joy of having his brother back. He only thought of the betrayal and the misuse of the family’s fortune.

…on the what if scenario: since the older son is loyal and obedient, this emotional experience will not keep him from obeying the father and eventually joining in on the celebration; perhaps, his younger brother’s humility would extend to him and he will come to learn about the joy the father enjoys… he could very well learn to forgive the trespass of his younger brother.

Maran atha!



HOW did you get he goes to hell out of that?


HI, Clare!

…yeah, I did not want to bring it up but it those seems a stretch.

Maran atha!



Well, I can’t think of anyplace in Scripture where the writer comes right out and says someone is in hell. I Could be wrong…:thinking:


I think that this is based on Judaism–the teachings of the various rabbis based on Scriptures (Old Testament) and culture (Jewish).

Maran atha!



I believe in Eastern Orthodox tradition it’s called the Parable of the Two Lost Sons.


The older brother stayed outside during the party, and spent those few hours writing what is known as a “dubia,” demanding “clarification” of what exactly he meant by “this son of mine was lost, and now he is found.” When his father didn’t respond to this dubia, he was very vocal about how “confused” he was over what had transpired, and bemoaned the fact that his father was causing “division” and “a crisis” in the family. His main complaint was that his father was apparently changing the family rules and endorsing the squandering of money on prostitutes. The older brother eventually went and found a new family that only spoke Latin. They were all very pleased with themselves.

And now you know…the rest of the story.


You are quite right. Jesus was speaking to Jews. The context, set in the preceding verses, shows that Jesus was receiving, eating with, and speaking to Jewish tax collectors and sinners (Jewish “prodigals” who had been living sin [outside the Law], but were now repenting and coming home). The Pharisees and scribes (Jewish “older brothers”, who thought that they had been living according to the Law all their lives) were annoyed by the fact that Jesus was partying with sinners. This prompted Jesus’ telling of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and then the Parable of the Prodigal Son (as they are popularly called).

The Parable of the Prodigal Son starts at Luke 15:11, but it should always be read within the context of Luke 15:1-10.



It’s similar to the parable of the workers in the Vineyard and others that deal with the idea of obedient, good, faithful people being upset that God is welcoming sinners, prostitutes, new converts, gentiles, Samaritans and other “undesirables”.

One feels bad for the older son, but at the same time he does need to learn to love his flawed brother (this also seems to be the basis for about 50 Hollywood movies about families) and it also seems that the reason he never got a fatted calf to celebrate with his friends is not that his dad is ungenerous or uncaring, more that the good son didn’t ask for such a thing. Maybe he didn’t even really want it - being a responsible sort, he’s likely not going to want to waste money on a party.

Dad basically says to him, “You know I love you and all I have is yours, but I love your brother too and I’m so happy he’s back when I thought he was gone forever. Can’t you be happy too and welcome your brother home? Please, for me?”

I always figured the good son grumbled a bit, then went into the party. He is a good son, after all.


There is a wonderful book by Henri Nouwen called “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.
It gives a wonderful insight into the parable. I highly recommend it.


Hi, Dave!

Yeah… what I find interesting is how Jesus pushed the button without forcing the issue; the parable of the laborers:

20:16 Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’ (St. Matthew 20:1-16)

…I suspect that’s part of the issue with Jews today; they still begrudge gentiles not becoming Jews and claiming Yahweh as their Father!

Maran atha!



Same question; seems like a bit of a leap. Also it’s a presumptive assumption because only God knows where people go after they die.


To me it seems understandable that the elder son would distrust his brother, at least at first. Recall that the younger brother left with a bunch of the family’s money, squandered it, and only returned to allegedly make amends after he was broke.


Yeah, I can totally see older brother saying “Listen, maybe you can snow dear old Dad, but you’re gonna have to do more than just show up to get back on my good side. Do you have any idea how much you upset Dad? I’m keeping my eye on you.” Etc


My priest said it was a lesson for longtime believers…on not permitting new Church members to participate, or being unwelcoming to those who are new to a parish. Just because you were there first, doesn’t mean you don’t welcome those new, hoard your ministries, feel like you’re holier, or all of the things that people get jealous about in churches and communities.
All are welcome at the Eucharistic table.

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