The Other Son

Recently I have been meditating a lot on the story of the Prodigal Son.  Not the part about the PS himself, but the part where is brother gets mad.  Because I think I’m a bit like the other son these days.  I think many in the particular movement in the Catholic church of which I am a part are like the other son.  In various contexts I’ve been noticing a fair amount of Other Son thinking from myself and from my acquaintances and I don’t think it’s a good thing.  As you recall, the other son is none too happy when his Dad welcomes the no good brother back with a huge party.  “Hey,” says Other Son “Here I’ve been working hard and being good for ages and I FATTED that calf you’re about to kill and eat.  Where’s my party??”  The Other Son feels that nobody has appreciated what he has done, and furthermore he feels a sense of entitlement, and who can blame him.  Justice would say he’s spot on.  His Dad, however, reminds him that he is loved and that all this good stuff is his but that it is right to celebrate the return of Prodigal.  Now I think that when those of us who have tried to remain faithful to values which are going by the wayside see other people using some of these cherished things without appreciating them, or without appreciating our struggle, we get a bit peeved.  This is why sometimes you will go to a Latin Mass and feel waves of antipathy washing over you as your children squirm and generally behave like children.  I was once told that God didn’t want my child there and neither did anybody else!  This, I was informed, was a Special Mass (as if any valid Mass is not, there’s another great tangent).  There are other examples of people who have fought long and hard to keep this version of the Mass alive suddenly becoming possessive of it when others start to join the community.  You would think they would be thrilled as the congregation grew but sometimes this is not the case.  Another instance is when two people get married and the sniping begins about whether or not they were chaste before marriage, whether or not they will use birth control, how many years the marriage will last.  Once they DO get married we start watching to see how soon and how often they reproduce and speculate on the reasons.  As if the number of children you have, be it large or small, can tell anybody anything about your spiritual state.  Those who have carefully and solemnly undertaken the sacrament of marriage as the Church intended are understandably protective of that state in life.  Still, this kind of manifestation of that feeling is mean-spirited.  How much does it have to do with wanting the sacrament to be protected and how much does it have to do with our pride that nobody gave us some kind of medal for making it to the altar white dress intact or for taking on children?  Not exactly the same but certainly related, is when traditionalists refuse to have anything to do with the parishes they belong to because they aren’t “good” enough.  Who better to turn around the Catechetical program or the music than those with some education on the subject but then we don’t want to go “slumming” or something.  I’m not trying to tar the whole movement with this brush, by any means, it’s just a trap I see as particularly dangerous to us.  It’s a normal human feeling to want some kind of recognition for hard work and let’s be honest, there’s some seriously hard work involved with being a faithful Catholic.  It’s wonderful in the big picture but day to day it can be a really hard slog.  Having put in the effort I think we begin to see the things of the Church as the personal preserve of us and our like-minded friends, but we weren’t supposed to be protecting and restoring it for ourselves but to give to others.  Sometimes those others won’t appreciate it.  Sometimes they will even misuse those things but that will be between them and the Father.  We may be the son who has tried to stick by him but He’s their Father too.

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1 Comment

Filed under Religious Ramblings

One response to “The Other Son

  1. Niki MacD

    My thoughts exactly. I think moving outside of the bubble of our alma mater has helped me realize this more and more.

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