Volume 4, Issue 6, April 1996

The Two Brothers

Once upon a time there was a man who had two sons. When the first son was born, the parents gave him love and care, but was not able to dress him in fine clothes or to send him to school. When the boy was old enough both father and son went out into the fields and worked from dawn to dusk.

A second son was born to the family. The harvests of those years were plentiful and, because the father and the older son continued to labour, when it came time there was enough money to send the younger son to school. So, the second son went to school, studied with all his might, and became wise in the ways of the world. Upon graduation he embarked on a career and, being honest and educated, he acquired riches.

The parents were pleased with both sons - the one who toiled in the fields and the other who laboured in business. When the father grew old he called them and their families to his house and their mother prepared a meal for them. The father said: "My sons, I have nothing to leave you in this world save the knowledge that I have loved you both with all my heart. Keep that memory within you and love one another as brothers with the same love that I have loved you." And the man died.

The fortunes of the brother who worked in the fields fell on bad times. The land no longer produced food, and he became poor.

He sent his children to the house of his rich brother to ask for food, for they were hungry. But the rich brother was busy and he did not hear their cries.

Then the wife of the poor brother came to the house, and she said: "My body is sick; my house is cold; my children are hungry; help me." But the rich brother told his servant to close the door.

Finally the poor brother came himself to the house, and said: "My brother, remember the love we learned from our parents, and remember that it was my labours that enabled you to study and prosper. Now I am poor. My wife is sick; our house is cold; the children are hungry; and I need work. Help us.

The poor brother left the house, and that night, as he lay on his bed, he dreamed of swords and fire.

Now, what do you think? Which of these two brothers did the will of their father: the rich one or the poor one? Who was deserving, and who acted scandalously? Who is on trial in our society today?

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"Religion NOW" is published in limited edition by the Rev. Ross E. Readhead, B.A., B.D., Certificate of Corrections, McMaster University, in the interest of furthering knowledge and participation in religion. Dialogue is invited and welcomed.