The Prodigal Son, having come to his senses, returns home to a waiting father. The prepared and rehearsed speech is surplus to requirement. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you ….”, yes he delivers it but it’s by the way. The father has already made up his mind. He is happy to have his son home, orders that he be dressed in the finest and fed with the best. Happy story. Well not quite!
The other brother can’t share the joy. Before he gets the chance to encounter the joy, he is given the “breaking news” by one of the servants. “Your brother has come home. Your father killed the calf we had been fattening because he got him back safe and sound. He’s celebrating the return with a massive party …..”
Enough said! There’s no going in for the other brother. He cannot share the joy for or enthusiasm around this moment. When the father comes to plead with him to come in and join the celebration, he leaves the father in no doubt. He wants nothing to do with it. He points out the shortfalls in the father’s treatment of himself. No celebration even though he stayed “down on the farm”. But when this “son of your’s” (not brother of mine) comes back after squandering your money “he and his women” the fattened calf is killed.
Two problems here, I think. Jealousy and gossip. Equally dangerous. The brother’s jealousy of his brother allows not for the meeting of hearts. The news report from the servant, admittedly asked what was happening, inflames anger.
Jealousy and gossip should be kept at arm’s length all the time. Jimmy McCarthy has a fine song about gossip. He calls it “the carrier of scandal”. I don’t know all the words but it goes something like this:
“The first to arrive
The last to go,
the last you’d tell
and the first to know …..
So keep one eye open
wherever you go
for the carrier of scandal
and his travelling show
keep your heart in your pocket
and a lock on your tongue
for the carrier of scandal”
People like that should be kept at arm’s length. They’re up to no good and out for nobody’s good. I’m reminded of “The Bird” in John B. Keane’s “The Field”
The thought for today … avoid jealousy and avoid gossip.