The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

A Parable of Love and Jealousy

Fr. George Smiga
March 10, 2013
Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

Today’s parable of the prodigal son is so famous and so rich that we might not notice that it is incomplete. It ends too soon. It ends with the father pleading with the older son to come in to the celebration which he has arranged for the prodigal son. But we are never told how the elder son responds to his father’s pleading. His father says, “We must celebrate and rejoice.” Yet the parable ends before we find out whether the older son in fact does celebrate and rejoice.

So the incompleteness of this parable draws attention to the decision which the older son must face. That choice, whether to celebrate or not celebrate with his brother, becomes a key to unlock the meaning of the parable.

The decision of the elder son which is left hanging in the air suggests that this parable is not so much about sinning, repenting, and forgiving as it is about jealousy. It is not so much about forgiving the son who came home but the willingness to accept the brother who has come home. It asks us: Are we willing to rejoice in the good fortune of others?

When someone makes a great basketball shot on our team or someone delivers an excellent speech in debating class, are we willing to rejoice with that person or do we say, “I could have made that shot if they passed the ball to me. I could have given just as good a speech if I had been given that topic.”

When someone at work gets a promotion or pulls off an important project, are we able to rejoice with that person or do we say, “I could have done that too if I played the game, if I catered to the whim of my superiors.”

When we see a great mother, a clever businessman, a creative thinker, are we willing to rejoice and celebrate those gifts or do we feel compelled to tell ourselves and others of that person’s flaws, mistakes, and limitations? This is exactly what the older brother does as he tries to tell his father all the reasons that his younger brother should not be welcomed home.

Today’s parable is a parable in which the elder son is jealous of the love that the father gives to his brother. Clearly the parable is inviting us to avoid such jealousy in our own lives. But if we are going to do that, we have to understand what causes jealousy so that we can avoid it.

The parable gives us the answer. The older son is unable to accept the love that his father has for him. The father certainly loves the elder son. He says this clearly. He says, “My son, you are here with me always and all I have is yours.” And yet, for some reason, this elder son will not believe in the father’s love. Because he will not accept the gifts that flow from that love, he ends up being jealous of his brother.

The surest way to avoid jealousy in our own lives is to accept the love God that has for us and the gifts that God has given us. Even though our gifts might seem less than the gifts of others, we need to believe that the gifts that we have been given are valuable and important. Sometimes we think: If God is loving that other person so much there will not be enough love left over for me. But the parable clearly says this is wrong. The father is excessive in loving, prodigal in loving. The parable assures us that with our God there will always be enough love for all of the children.

This story invites us to claim the love that God has for us and the gifts that God has given us. It invites us to be thankful for our gifts and to believe, whatever those gifts are, they are a sure sign of God’s unfailing love for us. If we can be thankful for the gifts we have received, we can avoid jealousy in our lives. When we claim God’s love, our response to someone’s success or exaltation will be joy rather than envy. We will be able to celebrate with them, because no matter how much someone else can be blessed, we will know that we are never left out. With our God, there is always enough love to go around.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options