You probably know the parabel of the prodigal son: A father had two sons, and one of them demands his share of the inheritance. He gets it, runs off and wastes all of it in a foreign country. At the end of the money he finds himself in a famine and has to feed someone else‘s pigs. There he is, hungry and devastated. So he decides to head back home and beg his father to become one of his servants, because he doesn‘t feel worthy enough to be his son anymore. But when he arrives at his father‘s house, he is not taken in as a servant. The father is overflowing with joy because his son has returned. He welcomes him back and launches a huge feast.
What a nice story about God‘s endless love and forgiveness, that overcomes even our biggest mistakes and failures.
Except that‘s not the whole story.
Because when the feast is in full swing, the other son comes in and is quite angry about what‘s happening. The father then asks him to join the party, but in response the son just rants about how hard he has worked and never gotten anything like that welcome-back-party in return.
That sounds a bit jealousy. And to be honest that‘s a situation we find ourselves in quite often. Because usually we picture ourselves as the second son, the one who stays at home and works. Of course there are days when we are the „prodigal“ and mess things up. But most days we try to be nice, say thanks before every meal and even if not. We didn‘t kill anybody, we didn‘t rob a bank or did whatever the criminals of this world do.
But then something bad happens to us and we get upset. Sometimes it‘s even enough to see good happening to other people. We question the situation, because we think we earned something. We think because of our efforts we deserve something. That‘s what happens in the parabel.
How does the father respond to this outburst of anger?
He says: „You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.“
And in that conversation between the father and the son-who-stayed-at-home we can learn something important about God‘s nature: There is nothing to be earned. None of our actions and good deeds matter to him in the sense of impressing him and expecting something in return. We can‘t gain anything through our behaviour, because we already have everything.
Isn‘t that great? There is no need to feel pressure in life, as if you had to pass some kind of test in the end. Because with God, there is no test. There is no reason to worry. There is no reason to be jealous, because whatever somebody else may have, we already have everything in God.
May you go into this month being reassured, that God is always with you, and everything He has is yours!
(Bible story in Luke 15,11-32)