No. The title isn’t meant to be literal.
I have thought a lot about this parable (Luke 15:11-32) and I think that it is likely one of the more popular. We can apply many aspects of it to our life and typically when thinking about a sinful past we often compare ourselves to the prodigal son coming home to Christ when we repent.
The prodigal son’s brother often gets overlooked as it is not the focal point of the parable. We can apply his behavior, attitude, and general disposition to ourselves in many ways. I think he’s pretty relatable, especially because I consider myself a dependable married man with a family. Being dependable is often overlooked especially today. A sense of normalcy often attributed to people in bygone decades really needs a comeback.
Today, people care about flashy appearances and always looking through the digital telescope into their neighbors homes. In fact, I would say there are more prodigal sons (and daughters) in today’s era than ever before. There is a distinct lack of humility and feeling of joy that seems to constantly be in our face and if we don’t change our attitudes and views it will only get worse.
The idyllic life is the one of the brother and we should strive for a hard working and devout structure that enables a good and true vocation. The pleasures and lifestyle of the prodigal son are like many we see today, usually illustrated in detail on social media. This creates the “I want what I can’t have attitude,” and can lead down a path of envy. The brother (although a sinner) shows us in his actions, albeit brief, that he is hard at work while the other brother was away squandering and philandering. His anger at the prodigals return could even be construed as justified and we do not know how he acted after his father quelled his concerns.
It should be said that there is nothing inherently wrong or imperfect with being the average person. Inwardly I have always wanted to build a legacy that is kingly but I think with every year that idea continues to mature like a good bourbon. As God loves us all no matter our fallacies, we should look to the basic understanding of our purpose which is equivalent to that of the prodigal son’s brother, to know love and serve God in this world and the next.
In the year dedicated to Saint Joseph let us be that hard worker, no matter our profession or position. Let us be the brother of the prodigal, focused on our work, on our families, and our God. Let us not be dragged down by the social status of those around us, the political folly, or the fear of illness. Let us seek to be kind and understanding instead of brash and unrelenting. Stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh air, marveling at the beauty of Spring and the budding of trees symbolizing the end of Lent and the beginning of something renewed.