How the older brother reacted in the prodigal son parable



15:18 I will leave is this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; 15:19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” (St. Luke)

You are willfully or genuinely ignoring the condition of the man’s heart.

The prodigal son was not scheming and thinking about how to scam his father; he was actually moved to repentance. His intent was to fully reconcile himself to the father… and not just to claim “rights” of kinship.

God, of course, Knowing what is in our heart does not need but for us to Turn Back to Him. However, the Confession and Repentance cannot take place if all we do is pretend that 'we’re back!’

Maran atha!



I notice you willfully and genuinely left out verses 16 and 17. :smiley:


Wow, when you stick to something you reaaaaaaly stick to it!

The guy fell hard!

But instead of remaining in his drug/alcohol/etc. vice driven world; he realized (came to his senses) that even the lesser of servants in Heaven were coheirs with Christ.

Maran atha!



Truth is truth, my friend. Regardless of how you try to spin it.


Actually, I just heard a teaching on this from an FSSP priest and he says anyone who claims that The Church doesn’t say anyone is in hell they do not know Scripture. See Numbers 16, Core and the 250 followers were swallowed up and went down alive into Sheol.


That is a number, not a person.

The church has never confirmed ~insert person here~ is in hell. Only that there are some people there.


Wow, I always thought those verses meant that the son saw the wrong he had done to his father and hoped that his father might hire him, as his current employer was not feeding the PS. It didn’t seem like he planned to scam the father at all.


I didn’t mean to imply that there was any scam involved. I meant that his “repentance” came from a purely selfish motivation. He was thinking of himself, not of his father. In the Act of Contrition we say that we are sorry for our sins most of all because they offend God. That is perfect contrition, which of course is what we should strive for. But the parable shows that God is willing to forgive even if we remain in our selfishness. His main objective is to be reunited with us.


We knew God is willing to forgive with imperfect contrition, since it is allowed in Confession.

Plus, you said the son was scheming above.


I said scheming? Wow, I don’t remember that. Nevertheless, you can use whatever word you want. He was looking for something to eat, not repenting. He was moved by nothing but his hunger. You can always tell when someone is up to no good in the Bible—whenever they’re talking to themselves. Come to think of it, you’re right. He was scheming. “I know what I’ll do, I’ll say these words and I’ll get this result.” That’s a scheme.

I really don’t get what all the contention is about. My point is that God forgives in a way that opposes all human logic. Why would anyone dispute this? Just for the sake of arguing?


It’s not anything hidden, it’s actually very obvious

Thanks for the explanation. This is something of a dilemma with the Gospels for me. Sometimes things don’t make sense and one starts to wonder whether there is some hidden meaning ; that you need some esoteric knowledge to perceive some concealed message. The gnostics extrapolated all sorts of meanings from the Bible for example.


Yes, it can be tricky. The reason I think the meaning of this parable is so clear is because the son’s behavior reflects all of human nature. Despite all of the pious religious posturing we like to do, we all have the same inherent selfishness. We’d like to think that we always act out of pure love and obedience to God, but many times we only crawl back to Him when we’ve made a big enough mess that we can no longer handle it ourselves. It is still astonishing to me that God still accepts that self-serving return home as many times as is necessary. I think sometimes we should just let the wonder of that sink in for just a moment. It’s unfortunate when we nervously rush back to the demand for repentance, out of the fear that we might be rationalizing sin. Sometimes we just need to bask in His love without intellectualizing it.


Well said. Incidentally, today’s gospel is an example of obscured meanings (for me at least)


[The father] said to [the older son], ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

For someone who relates with the older brother, I think Jesus intentionally ended the parable like that. I think He’s telling us, ‘You have the choice of holding a grudge and being resentful forever OR you can forgive and celebrate the wonderful event of your brother being found’. For those of us older brothers, we choose how it ends. That’s my opinion.



But if it is truth, why would there be any reason to spin it?

Maran atha!



Hi, Debbie!

Does your Priest distinguishes between the abode of the dead (Sheol) and hell?

Maran atha!



Hi, Annie!

Yeah, that’s the difference between eisegesis and exegesis; too many people read into Scriptures their preconceptions then they say ‘see, I told you, that’s what it says!’

It’s like those reading that Jesus wrote down the names and/or sins of those who were accusing the woman of adultery or Saul falling to the ground from “a horse;” there’s no evidence, but they believe it wholeheartedly… ‘so it must be what God intended to Reveal.’

If he wanted to scam the father, why would he insist on the course he determined to follow?:

15:21 Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” (St. Luke)

On the previous verse the father had already ran to him with love and affection in his heart:

15:20 So he left the place and went back to his father. ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. (St. Luke)

Most of the people I have known deflect any semblance of guilt the second they believe that they are past any reason to own up to their responsibilities and obligations.

The words chosen by the son are very exact, Calling God as witness: ‘I have sinned against Heaven…’

But, we are free to form any opinion we choose; that’s that “freewill” thing.

Maran atha!



But that’s because you miss his Confession:

15:21 Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” (St. Luke)

Sin is the most egotistical act man can achieve since by it he places himself above God; returning to God, even if by imperfect contrition, is what the Father wants of the sinner!

Maran atha!



Hi, Annie!

No, that was my interpolation.

I wanted to point out that what was being stated amounted to a scam which meant that the person was scheming to get something… I wanted to demonstrate that the son’s determination was not to claim his “right” of sonship/heir but that he understood how poorly his life-choices had been and that, compare to his father’s servants, he was suffering a grave degree of poverty and loss of dignity (he was not even allowed to eat the slop meant to be fed to the pigs).

So when he came to this realization his interests were self-centered; yet, he did not do what we, Christians, do even today, ‘claim Salvation as an obligation God has because we are his children.’

The son commits to his resolve to return to the father’s home and he sticks to his principles:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.”

He judges himself at fault and welcomes the Father’s Mercy and Justice.

…sadly, many people get stuck in the character of the older son–not welcoming the wayward brother, ‘cause he must be holding ulterior motives.’

Maran atha!




When that happens it is because people remove the Holy Spirit from the Scriptural Experience.

Maran atha!


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