The parable of the Prodigal Son is echoing through my head quite a bit lately. It is the most famous of all Jesus’ parables, and it is replete with principles that govern relationships. The striking thing to me is that the title of the parable, given by scholars over the centuries of Christendom, is a misnomer. It should be titled “The Parable of the Unforgiving Elder Son.” While that is a bit less flashy, it is more to the point that Jesus was teaching: namely, we cannot live well in this world if we continually are comparing our lives to others’.
I realize this is the most natural of human reactions, this thing we call comparison. “That’s not fair!” is a statement learned early on in life. One of the great lessons Jesus is teaching is that we cannot live our lives based on what happens to others. Jesus responds to Peter at the end of John’s gospel that John’s story is not his. “What is that to you?” In other words, quit looking around and comparing your story to what others are going through.
The older son is caught up in the “life’s not fair” syndrome, but that comes from comparing our lives to others’ rather than looking at the One whom we celebrate this Easter season. Let’s live our lives focused on Him who sacrificed Himself for us. Then forgiveness and love will flow naturally out of our lives as an act of love to our Lord who loves us no matter what.