Notice what Jesus does in today’s Gospel. In response to the grumbling of the Pharisees and scribes, He tells the parables the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son (aka the Prodigal Son). And what were they grumbling about? Well, they were upset that Jesus was welcoming sinners and eating with them. (I guess that in those days all the tax collectors and sinners wore some kind of identifying insignia, since it seems as though everyone knew who they were.) Any way, Jesus initially compares the “tax collectors sinners” to sheep and coins which are found after a period of time of being lost. He says that just after a lost sheep is found, the shepherd rejoices, and just after someone finds money that was lost he/she rejoices as well. He says basically that He is like the one who has found the lost sheep or the lost coin. He simply must rejoice; tax collectors and sinners are returning to Him. Many who once were lost are now found. But then He turns up the heat significantly with the story of the Lost Son. Here, He basically tells the Pharisees and scribes (and remember the Pharisees and scribes are us!) that not only is He going to rejoice in the returning home of lost sinners as the father in this parable rejoices once the prodigal son returned home, He tells them that they will condemn themselves if they don’t join in the celebration as well. Please pay close attention to the conversation between the father and the elder son at the close of the parable. The father basically says that both he (who represents the scribes, Pharisees and us) and his brother (who represents the tax collectors and sinners), are his beloved sons. He also implies that they have both sinned; they both have rejected His love. (How do you think the Pharisees and scribes liked to hear that?) Finally, He says that they both are invited to join him at the banquet. At the end of the story the older brother, like the Pharisees, the scribes, and us, have a decision to make. Is he going to acknowledge that he, like his brother, is also sinful and in need of his father’s mercy and join the banquet or not? And what are we going to do? Are we going to do what we need to do to join the eternal banquet, or are we going to find ourselves as did the older brother at the end of the story-on the outside, looking in?