31 But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine. 32 But it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found.
Augustine: The father does not rebuke him as a liar, but commending his steadfastness with him invites him to the perfection of a better and happier rejoicing.
It is thus that all things are looked at by perfect and immortal children, that each is the possession of all, and all of each. For as desire obtains nothing without want, so charity nothing with want.
Cyril: Some live a most excellent and perfect life, another ofttime even in his old age is 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.
Ambrose: If he ceases to envy, he will feel all things to be his, either as the Jew possessing the sacraments of the Old Testament, or as a baptized person those of the New also.
Theophylact: Every one who is recalled and turned from sin, partaking of the fatted calf, becomes an occasion of joy to his father and his servants, that is, the angels and priests.
Chrysostom: 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. . . . This parable then was written to the end that sinners should not despair of returning, knowing that they shall obtain great things.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).