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  • The oldest son was always going the extra mile to impress his father. He got top honors in school, graduated from business school, and came to work for the family business. In four years, he turned the neighborhood store into a national chain making millions of dollars every year. Everyone in the family profited, and life was good.

    The younger son was, well, different. He wasn't worried about Dad's rules and preferred to hang out with his buddies who were always partying or chasing women. Life was a party and he was going to make sure he didn't miss a moment. Eventually, his father threw him out of the house.

    That's when life became real to the younger man. Without dad's money, he didn't have much to contribute to the partying life style, although he did hold the record for the most continuous beer bongs among his peers. He wandered around looking for jobs, but without an education or experience, he wasn't finding much out there. Finally he thought about going to work for one of the stores his father now owned. He knew he couldn't expect much, but if he could get a steady job as a stock boy, it would be enough to pay for rent and meals.

    He humbled himself and decided to call on his dad at the office, ready to admit he was wrong and had messed up. He wasn't even going to ask his father's forgiveness because he didn't think he deserved it. He was just going to ask for a job.

    He was trying to convince the security guards he was actually the owner's son when his dad came out of the elevator and immediately went to him and hugged him and almost burst into tears.

    “Son, you don't know how happy it makes me that you have come back to us!”, his dad said at the top of his voice, unconcerned about the other people in the lobby. He wasted no time in introducing his son to everyone they met as they walked over to the elevator and headed to the executive offices. Everyone was smiling and cheerful until they got to his brother's office. His brother just looked at him, then went back to work as if nothing had happened. Their father was too busy being happy about his young son's return to worry about it at the moment.

    When the father had introduced him to everyone on his staff, he took him into his office and had the secretary make reservations at a fancy restaurant for the two of them, then called his tailor and said they would be on the way and to be ready to make his son some suits of his finest materials. Then he called ahead to his personal secretary and told her to plan a dinner party that very evening and invite all the important people in town and have a sumptuous feast prepared to celebrate the return of his son.

    On the way to the restaurant, they stopped by the best jewelry store in town and his father bought the young man a fine watch and ordered a ring with the family crest, then purchased a pinky ring with a large emerald for his son to wear. They had a magnificent luncheon and spent the afternoon at the tailor's, where the son was fitted with suits of the finest wool, silk and linens. When that was done, the father had their chauffeur drive them to the finest men's off the rack store where he bought his son the latest fashions and a suit for the dinner party.

    As the guests started to arrive, the father noticed his oldest son had not come to the party, so he went in to his study and Skyped him on his computer.

    “Son, we are having a wonderful feast here to celebrate the return of your brother. Aren't you coming?”

    The son's face darkened and he was obviously frowning as he replied, “Father, I have worked for you since I was old enough to stand behind the counter at your store. I have worked hard every day and never questioned it. But you have never thrown me a party like this, or even celebrated my birthday with such gusto and flair.”

    The father's face became sad, but he never hesitated in his answer, “Son, you have always been here with me and you know that all I have is yours to do with as you please. I have never told you otherwise, and if you wanted such a party, all you had to do was ask. But this is your brother, who I thought was lost to us, but now has returned to be with us again. I want him to know how much we missed him and how much we love him, no matter what has happened in the past. Won't you join us in this celebration of reunion for your brother's sake? And if not for his, for mine?”

    “I'll think about it.” said the son, and the screen went blank. He never did show up at his father's house, and went to his grave never having spoken to his brother.

    The younger brother, overwhelmed by his father's love, was given a grant to go to college and eventually became a partner with his father and his older brother in the family business. Although he tried many times to reconcile with his brother, it never happened. Not even when their father passed away. Through attorneys, the younger brother eventually bought the company and retired his brother. At the older brother's funeral, his wife and children came to him and talked with him, getting to know their relative after all those years.

    When the younger brother died, his soul was taken up before Jesus and the first thing he asked was if his brother and father were there to meet him.

    “Of course they are” Jesus said with a smile, “they are waiting over there.” His hand pointed to a corner of the great courtyard where many people gathered. He could clearly see his father, looking young and vibrant as he did when his sons were children.

    As he approached them, the older brother came forward with tears in his eyes. “You never held any of this against me, brother. When I was gone you comforted my wife and children. Can you ever forgive my horrible treatment of you?”

    The younger brother replied, “What do you mean? Because of your work, I returned to a business that flourished and provided me with a home and an education. You gave me a sister in law and nieces and nephews who loved me and cared about me and gave me comfort in my old age. Most of all, you taught me the value of being honest and true by your example. I knew you had no reason to forgive my foolishness and stupidity when I was younger, but still you made sure I was provided for. Can you ever forgive me for not being the brother I should have been?”

    The father watched as his sons embraced, and rejoiced that his family was once again together.

    Yes, I know, an updated version of the Prodigal with a little added.

    Nothing new or outrageously different, but perhaps something to think about.

    Especially the next time you hear a politician start ranting about entitlements.

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