A Parable of Two Sons

There was a farmer who had two sons. Life on the farm was not easy, and so the farmer took to his duties with a grim seriousness. They woke before dawn and returned after dark. The land too was merciless. When droughts came, it withheld its bounty. When floods came, it threatened with mud and water. And even in good times, it required toil and vigilance.

But despite his harshness, the farmer had a tenderness for his sons, especially the younger one. So, when the younger one said to the farmer, “Father, give me my share of the estate,” he divided his property between them.

The older son marveled at his brother’s courage.

photo credit: WPSU

photo credit: WPSU

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, stole his father’s car and set off for foreign lands. There he squandered his wealth on wild living, drugs and women.

The son that stayed behind missed his brother terribly. He carried photographs of his brother in his pocket as he worked. When he couldn’t sleep, he wandered onto the fields where they played as boys. And whenever a rainstorm came, the older brother wept in those muddy fields, singing songs of lament, praising his brother’s courage but mourning his own loss.

After the younger one had spent everything, he could find no way to feed his addictions, and he began to suffer withdrawal. So he became a beggar, pleading for enough money to fill his arm, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How good my father’s workers live, and here I am dying on the street! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I was wrong to abandon you and our home. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” So he got up and went to the farmer.

But while he was still a long way off, the farmer saw him and was filled with love for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, “Father, I was wrong to abandon you and our home. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But the farmer said to his workers, “Quick! Take him to the house and get him bathed and clothed. Take all our best animals and wines; Invite all our family and friends; we will have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was working in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the workers and asked him what was going on. “Your brother is back,” he replied, “and your father is throwing a lavish feast because he has him back safe and sound.”

Despite the longing in his heart, the older brother became angry and refused to go in. So the farmer went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve sacrificed for you. Yet you never loved me like you love him. And when this son of yours who has squandered your wealth comes home, you weep like a fool and celebrate like you’ve won the state lottery!”

“My son,” the farmer said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we have to celebrate, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

But the older son knew that it was he who was lost and is still yet to be found. At the party, he drank as much wine as his stomach would hold. And drunk, he sat at the piano playing songs of mourning and lament.



[1] Luke 15:11-32

[2] “Poison Oak” – Bright Eyes


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