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At the final defeat of the ISIS group in Syria, many of its foreign supporters started petitioning their governments to receive them back into their home countries. These were men, women and youth who left family, jobs, or studies to fight or live alongside the terrorists. Now captured or living as refugees, they say they want to go home and start life all over again.

Some countries cautiously welcomed back their citizens bringing them to court and to prison. Other countries refused the returnees, even depriving one petitioner of her citizenship. The people in these countries were enraged at the returnees’ betrayal, afraid of terroristic threats and doubtful of the returnees’ motives. But the families of the returnees have a different view. They are asking their governments to receive their wayward children, in spite of the pain they felt at their departure and support for ISIS. As passionate as some people are against the returnees, more intensely do their families long to see, embrace and forgive them.

Today we reflect on probably the most beautiful parable of the Lord Jesus Christ. Known as the parable of the prodigal son, Pope Benedict XVI insists that it is better called the parable of the two sons. Of course, the real center of the story is the unparalleled love of the Father for both his sons, the notorious rebel, the younger, and the hidden rebel, the elder.

We know the complete story of the Father, who after feeling betrayed and abandoned, was willing to forgive, receive and restore his younger son. He was also willing to invite his older son to open his heart to his returning brother. We also know the complete story of the prodigal, who upon realizing his mistake, boldly confessed his sin before his Father and received lavish love and mercy.

But Jesus did not complete the story of the older son. He never left home although most probably he too, wanted to have his independence. He stayed close to the Father and yet did not get to imitate the Father’s heart. In seeing his younger brother “raised from the dead” he felt not joy but resentment. Did he finally listen to his Father’s explanation? Did he enter the feast to welcome back his brother? Did he rejoice in seeing his family complete again?

Jesus did not complete his story because this older brother’s story continues in our own lives. Most of us are ordinary Christians, not rebels, but just trying to live according to what is right. But when we see people who do wrong and people who realize their mistake and want to reform, are we willing to follow the lead of our merciful Father? It is easier to condemn, to protest, to distance ourselves and to close our hearts. This is how most of us feel with regard to people who are classified as scum of society, disgrace of our families, and disappointments within our circles of relationships.

This Lent, let us look deep into our hearts and complete the story of the older son because it is the story of our own attitude towards God and our neighbor.