In the longer Gospel reading for Sunday, September 15, 2013, Jesus tell the parable of the prodigal son as yet another way to explain why he "eats with sinners." Most Catholics are familiar with the prodigal son who takes his inheritance, spends it recklessly, then returns home filled with shame and seeking to be treated as nothing more than one of his father's workers. His father is overjoyed, rejoices at the return of the son who was dead and is alive again and home.
The older brother does not share his father's joy. Rather, the brother is angry and jealous because he stayed with his father, never asked for anything, and worked for his father. He refuses to take part in the celebration. His father tries to reassure him that whatever the father has is already his. But the son, blinded by jealousy, cannot let go of his anger.
Many of us, at some point in our lives, have been like the prodigal son. We have made mistakes, done foolish things and needed forgiveness. We have felt the relief and joy of being welcomed back and forgiven. But many of us have also been like the older brother. We see someone else getting something that we did not get and we get angry. We forget about all things we have received. We forget about all the times we have needed forgiveness. Jealousy takes control of our thoughts, anger fill our hearts. We become indignant and self-righteous. How dare someone else get something after what he or she has done while we, the loyal ones, get nothing after we have done everything right? What we do not realize is what that anger and jealousy can do to us and to everyone around us.