Two Guys Talking Prodigality
— Hey, did ya hear ? The kid’s back.
— What kid ?
— You know, the one that asked his old man for “his share” of the inheritance.
— Oh, that kid. Ya know, if that had been my kid, I’d have…
— Well, he’s back.
— Uh huh. So what ? Did he make it big ? Come back in a limo ?
— Nope, broke. I heard that the old man was beside himself.
— Furious, huh ?
— Nope – beside himself with joy. Went running down the driveway to welcome him home as he limped up toward the house, all ragged and none too clean. At least that’s what they told me.
— With joy ?
— Yeah. Got the housekeeper to find some nice clothes for him, got the kitchen people to light up the barbecue and start grilling the steaks and the shrimp, sent out for a big fancy cake, raided his cellar for the wine that he laid down there a couple of years ago…. And then, the invites went out as quick as could be.
— Wow. Quite a story. Are you sure ?
— Listen, I was there, myself.
— You ?
— Yeah, you know I do a little side gig as a deejay, and the old man wanted me to come with my turntables and set up the party. So I went.
— Is he, uh…you know, okay ? In the head, I mean.
— He paid me is all I know.
— You know what I mean.
— Well, yeah, I do know what you mean. I think he’s actually ok. He just was really, really happy to see that young punk home again.
— And the kid ?
— I think he was stunned. I saw him later that same day, when he’d had a chance to take a shower and climb into some clean clothes.
I asked him – what happened out there ? He said : I screwed up. Big time. But after getting a little too close to some pigs for comfort, I came to my senses and figured to go home. I was going to ask my dad for a job as a hired hand on the ranch. And then, he wowed me with all this.
— So then ?
— Then I got my stuff going, and the beat was on. Lots of music, lots of dancing, lots of excellent food. Everybody happy to see the kid home and the father so happy. Who’s going to complain about that ? It might be unusual, but the vibes were mostly positive.
— Mostly ?
— Well, there was one sour note.
— You made a mistake on the turntables ?
— Haha. No, not me. I was my usual great self. But the other brother, the older guy. He wasn’t having any of it.
— What do you mean ?
— I mean, he was out working on the land when the kid arrived. So he didn’t know anything about it. I guess his cell had lost its charge. So when he did get back, he found the place the way I was talking about.
— Oh, I get it.
— Well, he was pretty ticked off, and refused to come in and start partying. He just stood out there in his dusty jeans, kicking dirt, mostly.
— So what did the old man do ?
— Well, this old man is pretty patient. He went out and, from what I hear from a girl I know who just happened to be around the corner from them…
— Listen…from what she says, there was no way anyone could have missed what the son was saying. He was so mad that he was yelling at the old man at the top of his lungs.
— Man, if I was that father, I’d have slapped him upside the head.
— Nah, you don’t get it. This father isn’t into violence. Think about it : he let the young kid take his “inheritance” and go freely – no questions asked. And when that young fellow came back, it was all joy and love and peace. Let me tell ya, if that had been my father….well. Let’s not even go there.
— Oh yeah, I remember your pop pretty well…you’re right, let’s not go there. But about this guy. OK…so, no violence. I get the feeling that the older kid was just so mad he couldn’t think straight.
— Yeah, he said to the father that he had been slaving away for him for years, never asked for anything, and never got anything, and then Mr. Las Vegas comes back and it’s joy time. So he wasn’t coming in ; no sir. It wasn’t fair.
— Well, what did the father say to that ?
— He didn’t deny it, but he put a different spin on the whole thing, saying that whatever he had belonged to that son, but that it had been like the young one was dead and had come back to life. They had to celebrate.
— And ?
— I don’t the older brother bought it. At least not then.
— Huh. You know, I wasn’t there, I don’t really know that family beyond saying “hi” if I see them in church. But right now, listening to you, I feel really sad about that older brother. I hope I’m not getting soft, but that’s how I feel, listening to you.
— Yeah, me too. That kind of surprised me, first because I’m no softy, and also because I understand where he’s coming from. But it’s like he missed a chance for something a lot bigger than himself and his hurt little feelings.
— Yeah, from what you say, he’s got a dad who has a huge heart, but he couldn’t see beyond his own feelings. Looks like the younger kid found that out about the old man…he hadn’t known it either, really. He had that whole job thing in mind as he headed back home. Still, when he was welcomed like that, he at least had the grace to be stunned and maybe grateful. But the older guy – bitter.
— The thing is, I don’t know how it ended up. It looked like the Number One Son was going to stay out there in his filthy clothes and stew. My time with the turntables ended around dawn. I packed up my gear and left…by that time there were a lot of happy, drunk people all over the place. Maybe that son came around.
— You know, I hope so. That father sounds like a man I’d like to know. He’s strange. But from what you say, there’s something powerful, something good about him, in the midst of all that strangeness.
— Yeah. I think you’re right. He’s not like most of us…but there’s something inviting about him.
— I wonder if the sons could ever be like him.
— At least he’s given them every chance to be. Why he’s like that, I dunno.
— Yeah. Well, I gotta go. I’ve got a couple of kids at home myself these days, ya know. I just might look at them a bit different now.
— Funny, but I was thinking the same thing. See ya.
— Take it easy.
Sr Nuala Cotter, ra
Worcester - USA
JOS 5:9A, 10-12 ; PS 34 : 2-3,4-5,6-7 ; 2 COR 5:17-21 ; LK 15:1-3, 11-32