I read once about the connection between the Last Judgement, how Christ will separate the goats and the sheep, and the two brothers [in the Parable of the Prodigal Son].
It’s the same thing. The ones on the left hand of Christ at Judgement are like the first born and the ones on the right like the second born. Both the ones on the left and the first born son, did not realise what they were doing. They ask Christ: “when did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty, when did we see you naked?” And the first born son was all his life with the father and he never realised what the father really was. Especially when the father embraced his prodigal brother with all his existence. They have the same incapability to understand what God wants or Is, because they are full of themselves. No free space for anything else. The people on His right hand, like sheep, also ask the very same question: “when did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty, when did we see you naked?” Not because they didn’t know God’s Will or they didn’t understand God. They only asked because for them being good was their second nature and they were very familiar with God.
That’s why they would never put titles in their actions like the Pharisee: “I fast, I do this, I do that” to justify themselves and to cover up their motives. They never thought that they would be rewarded for what they considered the natural thing to do. They were not expecting a reward if they were to spend hours talking to a friend with depression, or for giving up their seat in a bus for someone who looked exhausted, or if they would get themselves tired volunteering as fire men, paramedics, in Churches or Monasteries. The prodigal Son also knew that his father loved him. That God is love. That’s why he returned. He never thought he would be rewarded for knowing that the father loved him. And loving the father was for him his second nature. This knowledge and love didn’t fade away because of his sins; when, the older brother’s “righteousness” never let him open his eyes to truly understand his
father. Understand God!
This [article series] has been transcribed and edited from a talk in a young families gathering in Perth, Western Australia, organised by the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St John.