“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’) The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” (Luke 15:25-28)
I’ll never forget going into a Catholic Church and taking communion. I was foreign to the Catholic church, but I was at a wedding. The priest said not to take communion unless you’re Catholic, but Jesus doesn’t say that. I decided to honor Jesus and take communion anyway. I reached for the wafer. The priest looked at me with disdain and yelled at me in front of everyone, “On your tongue or not at all!” If I hadn’t been a Christian and known God’s love, I never would have gone into a church again.
This priest was a Pharisee, more concerned about the rules of the Catholic church than Jesus’ rules to love God and others. The older son in the Story of the Prodigal Son is representative of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Apparently the Pharisees didn’t pray to communicate with God and were ungrateful. Praying was a rote prayer in front of the temple congregation, never a prayer to change their own hearts. The older son didn’t communicate with his father either, he asked a servant why the people were celebrating. Accepting his inheritance early, he was also ungrateful. He refused to celebrate or talk to his younger brother even though the father wanted him to. How sad. But Jesus loves the Pharisees and is pursuing them with this story of the Prodigal Son.
Dearest Heavenly Father, when I don’t see the worth in someone, you do. You pursue the Pharisees of the world, those with the hardest of hearts, when I am put off and run away from them. Help me to change my attitude and pray for and show love to a Pharisee this week because you want me to. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.