In most cultures you will find a version of the story of the prodigal son.
The essence of the story involves a wealthy businessman with two sons. The eldest son is diligent and faithful to his father, the younger more rebellious and wayward. The last-born son convinces his father to pay out his inheritance portion up-front – while the father is still alive. He wants to go do his own thing. The father lovingly agrees. The other brother remains behind, tending to the family affairs and supporting his father.
The rebellious son goes off and busies himself with all kinds of shenanigans – wine, women and song – and it’s not long before he has squandered all his inheritance and is broke and homeless. After some time, as he is lying in the gutter contemplating his miserable circumstances, he remembers his loving father back home.
He picks himself up and hurries back home.
The father hears that his youngest son is coming back home, and prepares a lavish welcoming party for him. The crux of the tale being about how much the father loves his son, an unconditional love.
But, the story doesn’t end there. The other son becomes bitter and resents that his father seems to favor the younger brother. This even after all he has done for his father, his loyalty never wavering and always working hard. Yet, his brother left him and his father behind, went off and squandered his unfairly-gained inheritance on a nefarious life, and now that it is all gone, wants to come back home?
How can the father allow this?
So, he resents not only his brother who is seemingly getting away with murder, but more so his father, for not recognising his loyalty and levelheadedness.
The father sees that the older brother is upset and approaches him. The son protests to his father about how he has been overlooked in spite of his steadfast contribution and love, while the younger brother has done the opposite and is showered in glory.
The wise father’s response is profound.
“Don’t you see?” the father started. “You have always been a diligent, hardworking man. Your character and values are unquestionable.” He continued, “You have been an exemplary son, and one that I am proud of. You, I have never been concerned about”
The father concluded, “Your brother was lost without our love, you have been here with me, where there is always love.”