The Ballad of the Youngest and the Eldest

Missionary Weekly Reflection
Twenty Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, 15 September 2019
Ex. 32:7-11, 13-14; Ps. 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19; 1 Tim. 1:12-17; Luk. 15:1-32 (Luk. 15:1-10)

Luke tells a story about two sons. The two of them went to different destinations: the youngest went to a distant country, the eldest to the field. Only the Father stayed at home: he faithfully waited for his sons to come home! He would come out to welcome each of his son. He would let both of them talk, but the evaluation and final words will always depends on his assessment!

THE YOUNGEST asked for his part of the inheritance and decided to leave home. His father and elder brother kept silent. We didn’t need to judge him too early. Leaving home and the country means leaving the safety and protection from family, relatives and friends. What finally happened was: he suffered, humiliated, was starving in foreign country. His bad experience forced him to be self-introspective. He then decided to return home. Why? Because he was starving. He only wanted to work at his father’s field, because there were “abundant food” (v. 17). Obviously that’s the main reason. It’s better to be a full worker rather than a starving free-man. In order to be accepted, he had to speak religious words: “I have been sinned against the Heaven and against you”. So, he returned home with calculation! Economy with religious packaging: the best-selling package from then to now!

Apparently, FATHER doesn’t care about calculation. The wasteful of property is accepted by wasting of love. Money wasteful is responded with big party. The job applicant is restored as a child. Before His son arrives and says a word, the Father’s attitude is clear: compassion! Before His children arrive, He has run to see them, embraces and kisses them. Father’s love knows no calculation. Father’s love exists before an apology. The word of thankful from the child is not heard. That is the main message of this story. It is no coincidence that this story is called the “mini Gospel”: joyful message about Father’s abundant and unconditional love. Father always waits for us to return back, no matter how many time we have left!

THE ELDEST said: “all these years I served you..” He was a hard worker and also loyal and obedient: “not once I did disobey your orders”. But he also went to his father with calculation: where there is achievement, there is appreciation. I am obedient and loyal, I must be feted. The younger son has wasted money, he must be punished and rehabilitated. The elder son is slave-minded person: there is work, there is wage! Slightly different from his younger brother. The youngest returned back and wished to restore the relationship by becoming a “worker”, the elder maintained the relationship by being “servant”. Both had misunderstood about Father’s love!

Therefore, FATHER’s sayings must be the last words. Eventhough the eldest only greeted him with “you”, but the Father still called him “my son”. He is the Father who loves and shares all His properties (v. 31). The eldest called his younger brother “your son”, but the Father still called the youngest as “your brother”. Brotherhood replaces hostility. He is invited to join Father’s joy for finding the lost son.

So, If you are the eldest, what would you do? Bowing in with new identity as a “child” or keeping your chin up firmly outside as a slave? Welcoming the repentance of the youngest or claiming hell for him?

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)


Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:

Protection to the sea: May all politicians, scientists, economists be able to work together in protecting and conserving the ocean and world sea. We pray

For Indonesian Church intention:

Joyful Herald: By constantly appreciating the Holy Bible, may all Catholics be enabled to interpret each profession as an opportunity to be a Joyful Herald to all human kinds. We pray

Special intention:

May the people in our Diocese always give thanks to the accompaniment of the angels who are Lord’s messenger as the expression of Divine Providence so that Divine wisdom would support the Church. We pray



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