Luke 15:25

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
But the younger son, that is the Gentile people, is envied by Israel as the elder brother, the privilege of his father's blessing. Which the Jews did because Christ sat down tom eat with the Gentiles, as it follows; And he was angry, and would not go in The Jew requires a kid, the Christian a lamb, and therefore is Barabbas released to them, to us a lamb is sacrificed. Which thing also is seen in the kid, because the Jews have lost the ancient rite of sacrifice. Or they who seek for a kid wait for Antichrist. Now the shameless son is like to the Pharisee justifying himself. Because he had kept the law in the letter, he wickedly accused his brother for having wasted his father's substance with harlots. For it follows, But as soon as this your son is come, who has devoured your living But the kind father was still desirous to save him, saying, You are ever with me, either as a Jew in the law, or as the righteous man in communion with Him. For if he ceases to envy, he will feel all things...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The elder son is the people of Israel, not indeed gone into a distant country, yet not in the house, but in the field, that is, in the paternal wealth of the Law and the Prophets, choosing to work earthly things. But coming from the field he began to draw nigh to the house, that is, the labor of his servile works being condemned by the same Scriptures, he was looking upon the liberty of the Church. Whence it follows; And as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing; that is, men filled with the Holy Spirit, with harmonious voices preaching the Gospel. It follows, And he called one of the servants that is, he takes one of the prophets to read, and as he searches in it, asks in a manner, why are those feasts celebrated in the Church at which he finds himself present? His Father's servant, the prophet, answers him. For it follows; And he said to him, your brother is come As if he should say, your brother was in the farthest parts of the earth, but hence the greater re...


AD 735
While the Scribes and Pharisees were murmuring about His receiving sinners, our Savior put three parables to them successively. In the two first He hints at the joy He has with the angels in the salvation of penitents. But in the third He not only declares His own joy and that of His angels, but He also blames the murmurings of those who were envious. For He says, Now his elder son was in the field.
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Cyril of Alexandria

AD 444
If anyone says that the virtuous and sober son signifies Israel according to the flesh, we cannot agree to this opinion. In no way is it fitting to say that Israel chose a blameless life. Throughout the whole inspired Scripture, we see them accused of being rebels and disobedient…. I think it is right to mention this also. Some refer to the person of our Savior as that fatted calf that the father killed when his son was called to conversion…. If any one imagines that the virtuous and sober son means the physical Israel, how can Israel honestly say that he never gave him a kid? Whether we call it calf or kid, Christ is to be understood as the sacrifice offered for sin. He was not sacrificed only for the Gentiles but also that he might redeem Israel, who by reason of his frequent transgression of the law had brought great blame on himself. The wise Paul bears witness to this, saying, “For this reason Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his blood, suffered outside the gate.” ...

Cyril of Alexandria

AD 444
We also ourselves sometimes; for some live a most excellent and perfect life, another ofttime even in his old ageis converted to God, or perhaps when just about to close his last day, through God's mercy washes away his guilt. But this mercy some men reject from restless timidity of mind, not counting upon the will of our Savior, who rejoices in the salvation of those who are perishing.
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
His elder son We have already remarked, that this son represents the Jews. He boasts of having always served his father faithfully, and of never disobeying him. This is the language of that presumptuous people, who believe themselves alone holy; and despising the Gentiles with sovereign contempt, could not bear to see the gates of salvation laid open also to them. The 28th, 29th, and 30th verses express admirably the genius of the Jewish people; particularly his refusing to enter his father's house, shows their obstinacy. (Calmet)
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AD 420
Or he says, You never gave me a kid, that is, no blood of prophet or priest has delivered us from the Roman power. Now in that which he says, You have killed for him the fatted calf, he confesses that Christ has come, but envy has no wish to be saved. Or after having said, &#8220;This is boasting, not truth,&#8221; the father does not agree with him, but restrains him in another way, saying, You are with me, bythe law under which you are bound; not as though he had not sinned, but because God continually drew him back by chastening. Nor is it wonderful that he lies to his father who hates his brother. Or, in another way, all justice in comparison of the justice of God is injustice. Therefore Paul says, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? and hence were the Apostles moved with anger at the request of the sons of Zebedee.

John Chrysostom

AD 407
But it is asked, whether one who grieves at the prosperity of others is affected by the passion of envy. We must answer, that no Saint grieves at such things; but rather looks upon the good things of others as his own. Now we must not take every thing contained in the parable literally, but bringing out the weaning which the author had in view, search for nothing farther. This parable then was written to the end that sinners should not despair of returning, knowing that they shall obtain great things. Therefore he introduces others so troubled at these good things as to be consumed with envy, but those who return, treated with such great honor as to become themselves an object of envy to others.

Peter Chrysologus

AD 450
The older brother, the older son coming from the field, the people of the law, hears the music and dancing in the Father’s house, yet he does not want to enter. “The harvest indeed is abundant, but the laborers are few.” Every day we see this same thing happen with our own eyes. The Jewish people comes to its Father’s house, the church. It stands outside because of its jealousy. It hears the harp of David echoing, and the music from the singing of the psalms, and the dancing carried on by so many assembled races. It does not wish to enter. Through jealousy, it remains outside. In horror, it judges its Gentile brother by its own ancient customs, and meanwhile, it is depriving itself of its Father’s goods and excluding itself from his joys.

Peter Chrysologus

AD 450
“All that is mine is yours.” How is this? The law, prophecy, temple, priesthood, sacrifices, kingdom, and the gifts are for you. This is the greatest gift of all: Christ was born. Since you through your jealousy wish to destroy your brother, you are no longer worthy to possess your Father’s banquets and joys.
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Peter Chrysologus

AD 450
The Father steps outside and says to his son, “Son, you are always with me.” How is he with his son? In the person of Abel, Enoch, Shem, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the holy men from which stems Christ’s Jewish lineage read in the Gospel when it says, “Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob,” and so on.
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Theophilus of Antioch

AD 184
Or to take the whole differently; the character of the son who seems to complain is put for all those who are offended at the sudden advances and salvation of the perfect, as David introduces one who took offense at the peace of sinners. Or he was in the field, that is, in the world, pampering his own flesh, that he might be filled with bread, and sowing in tears that he might reap in joy, but when he found what was being done, he was unwilling to enter into the common joy. Or by this parable our Lord reproves the will of the Pharisees, whom according to the argument he terms just, as if to say, Let it be that you are truly just, having transgressed none of the commandments, must we then for this reason refuse to admit those who turn away from their iniquities?. The son then says to the father, For nothing I left a life of sorrow, ever harassed by sinners who were my enemies, and never have you for my sake ordered a kid to be slain,(that is, a sinner who persecuted me,) that I might en...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Here is the celebrated question—how is it that the son who lived a God-pleasing life in all other respects, and who faithfully served his father, could display such envy? The question will be answered if one considers the reason why this parable was told. This parable and the ones preceding it were told because the Pharisees, who considered themselves pure and righteous, were grumbling at the Lord because He received harlots and publicans. The Pharisees murmured indignantly, believing themselves to be more righteous than the publicans, which is why the Lord presented this parable. Consider that the figure of the son who is seen to grumble is understood to refer to all those who are scandalized at the sudden good fortune and deliverance of sinners. Such men grumble, not because of envy, but because neither they nor we can understand the outpouring of God’s compassion for man. Does not David bring forward the figure of a man scandalized at the peace of sinners (Ps. 72:3)? And Jeremiah li...
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Titus of Bostra

AD 378
The elder son then as a husbandmen was engaged in husbandry, digging not the land, but the field of the soul, and planting trees of salvation, that is to say, the virtues.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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