What about the Biblical story of the Elder Brother? While the father ran out to greet his “Prodigal” son, the lad who stayed home seethed in jealous rage.
“You never gave me a goat so I could feast with my friends”, he snarled, intentionally humiliating his elderly father in public.
The break between the son and his father had become a chasm. “I slaved for you”, he shouted when his father urged him to join the reunion celebration. “He’s always been your favorite.” It was said with resentment and malice, as if nothing he had ever done at home had the spirit of sonship about it.
“Come and rejoice for this moment”, the older man said in a spirit of reconciliation. “I have rejoiced in your presence daily.” The cry was from the heart of a man known for his graciousness.
But this time his words fell on deafened ears. Nothing more could be said or done.
Jesus, in pointing out the two different natures of the sons in the Parable, also describes the reconciling, non-judgemental love of a gracious God.
The Prodigal is lawless outside The Law. The other, lawless within The Law. Both rebel. Both break their father’s heart. Both end up in a far country: one physically, one spiritually.
The same unexpected love is demonstrated and offered to each. One son accepts the status of being found. The other, so far as we know, remains lost.
It is left for each of us to provide an ending. Did the father convince the older son to come in, or did he remain sulking in the shadows?
At the end, the “dead” son recognizes he has been lost and is in need. But the elder brother might never find his peace.