Friday, March 13, 2009

Surrounds You with Love

March 14, 2009

Saturday of the Second Week in Lent

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins. Micah 7:18-19

Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God, Who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills, Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion. Psalm 103:1-4

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20


Faithful Father, you are our God of grace, mercy and forgiveness. When mercy and pardon sound paternalistic to modern ears, make us realize, Lord, that you challenge us to face ourselves and to become new people, responsible for the destiny of ourselves and for the happiness of others. Make us responsive to your love through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. (Carmelite web site)


How do you write a short meditation on the Prodigal Son parable? There are entire books (thank you Henri Nouwen) on these 21 verses in the Gospel of St. Luke. There are classical paintings featuring interpretations of the story line and relationships. There are poems. If the short space and time, consider what this story tells us about the Father.

1) When we make demands upon him, he fulfills our demands. “Father, give me…” So despite the law that said the heirs should wait until their father died, he wanted to divide up the estate now. Ask and you shall receive.

2) When we return to the Father, no matter how long or how far we have strayed, he will take us back. Even if we stay right there with him but stray emotionally or psychologically, the Father will draw us back to him.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him. First, the father is portrayed as an old man in teh parable. How far could he really see? How would he even know where to look? If his son was EVER coming back, how would the father know if he was travelling in from the north, south, east or west?

My bet is that the father knew exactly where the son was at all times. He knew at some point the son would return. So the father had endless patience. That is why he knew which way to watch out for the son. When the return became reality, the Father reacted with joy.

The joy was short-lived because the father then faced the real prospect that he had lost his older/other son. That man did not share the joy of his brother’s return. So the father had to make a third show of his generosity and love.

Who had really driven away from the father? Both sons wasted the lavish love and joy that their father shared with them. The younger one wasted it by straying and wasting the gifts that the father bestowed. The older one wasted his time with the father by obviously not learning much nor emulating the love that his father expressed. To some extent, this could be called the Parable of the Prodigal Sons. The thesaurus uses the words “lavish” and “luxuriant” as synonyms for “prodigal.” In that case, perhaps we also should call this the Parable of the Prodigal Father who bathed all those around him in the lavish and luxuriant gifts of compassion, love and joy.


If you want to “return to the Father,” consider consulting one of the little giants of spirituality – the Rule of St. Benedict. It is offered free (you pay only $6.95 for shipping) by the monk of Belmont Abbey at this site:

The web page states: The Rule of St. Benedict has been called “... an epitome of Christianity, a learned and mysterious abridgement of all the doctrines of the Gospel, all the institutions of the Fathers, and all the counsels of perfection.” (Bossuet, 1627-1704, Bishop of Meaux)

You can receive this Christian classic FREE in an easy-to-understand, modernized English translation, with an introduction by Abbot Placid Solari, OSB (Order of St. Benedict).

Consider it the road map back to the Lavish Father for all of us “prodigal siblings.”

PS: Schools like Georgetown and Notre Dame exist for young Catholic women and men who can not get into Belmont Abbey. BTW, Beth was in the class of 77 and I was in the class of 78.

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