Barry felt slighted. After five years on the job he had expected to have developed some kind of relationship with his boss, but the fact was that, if it hadn’t been printed on the brass plate outside his office, he wasn’t sure his boss would even know his name. On the other hand, his boss always seemed to have time for Ted, the new guy in the office next door. Since Ted’s office was right next to his, Barry couldn’t help but notice how often his boss stopped by to see how Ted was doing.
Unfortunately, what Barry did not realize was that his boss already knew how Ted was doing and it wasn’t good. Barry was one of the top salesmen three years running and his boss had every confidence that he would continue to do so. Why would he need to talk to Barry when things were going so well? Barry was a great salesman and an excellent communicator. On the other hand, Barry’s boss realized early on that he would have to check everything that went out of Ted’s office to be sure his facts and figures were accurate and presented in a positive manner, which was why he stopped in so often.
Barry’s boss had no idea how Barry was feeling about his interest in Ted’s work and seeming lack of interest in his own. It never even occurred to him to thank Barry for the fine job he was doing. So now Barry was debating whether he should stay or look for work elsewhere. Luckily, Barry decided to talk with his boss before making a decision.
Barry is a lot like the other brother in our Gospel today. And Ted is like the prodigal son. The boss is like the father — listen to his words:
“[A]ll these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders and yet you never gave me even a fraction of the attention you’ve given to Ted.”
Barry’s boss explained that he knew what good work Barry was doing. He thanked him for all his efforts. And then he asked Barry to take Ted under his wing. What happens next? That will depend on whether Barry accepts his boss’ invitation to discuss it over lunch …
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.