Here is the story used in our third Family Lent Group. It focuses on the son’s resentment and anger as well as the father’s loving reaction.

Jesus told a story of two sons.

The eldest son had been working all day in the hot sun. “This is my life,” he thought. “Work, work, work.”

As he walked back home he thought again about his younger brother. He ground his teeth. “How could he have treated my father like he did” the elder son thought.

As he walked back home his anger flared at the thought of his brother out spending his father’s money, while he, the faithful son, worked at home.

As he walked back home he thought of how sad his father had been since his son left. “But what about me?” thought the elder son. “I’m here. Don’t I matter?”

As he walked back home he heard music.

He heard voices

He heard laughter.

He was puzzled. A party? Tonight? He started to relax and think about a happy evening ahead. It would be good after such a hard day.

He called over one of his father’s servants. “What is going on?” he asked.

“Oh good news sir!” said the servant. “Your brother has come home. Everyone is celebrating.”

Suddenly the anger and bitterness flared up again and again he ground his teeth. “Shall I tell your father you are back sir?” asked the servant, who hurried off before the elder son could reply.

After a little while the Father came out.

“Come in and join the celebration!” he said, smiling and holding his arms wide. At that moment all the resentment the elder son had been feeling spilled out.

“I don’t believe this. After all he did to you, after he left, after he squandered all your money, you give him a party. I have been here all the time. I’ve worked hard. I kept the farm going. And I haven’t even, even been offered a small party with my friends. And you roll out the red carpet for HIM.”

The father was taken a back for a while. Then he said, “Look round, son. Everything here, every calf, every sheep, every blade of grass, every stone in the wall…all of it belongs to you. Everything I have is yours. I lost one of my sons. I thought he was dead. And now he has come back to me. All my worry about him is finished. He is back where he belongs. That is worth a celebration. Come in join us. Let go of your anger and come and be joyful.”

Here Jesus ends the story we do not know what the elder son did. Did he let go of all his anger, bitterness and resentment and go in to join the party or did he hold on to to it and stay outside in the darkness?