The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Today we read the parable of the prodigal son, a story of sin, mercy, and forgiveness. In this parable, Jesus tells us who the Father is. Notice that the father in the parable is also prodigal—that is, extravagant—with his love. God is always trying to overcome separation. Notice the festivity of the parable. Realize how much joy it brings God when we return home.
The Grace I Seek
I pray for the following graces: deepening awareness and sorrow for my sins and a heartfelt experience of God’s merciful love for me.
Read Luke 15:11–32 (The parable of the prodigal son and his brother).
Consider: How does Jesus’ parable help me understand my own estrangement from God and others? How does it help me appreciate God’s welcome to me, a sinner?
What this calls up for me is the microcosm of God's love and extravagant welcome that I have received and continue to receive from my church home during my time away while Ken was in treatment and the aftermath.
As with any situation (I suppose), the initial outpouring of concern and visits and meals has dropped off. His treatment is over, since August; most people figure that the bad part is well behind us. As my faithful readers know, that's not exactly the case...he's been very sick several times with opportunistic infections that have made him super miserable, and the swallowing progress has been very frustrating and disappointing. My response has been not to leave him for church activities, even though I COULD, because I want to be there for him. I leave him alone all day when I am at work, as it is.
And now that he is feeling a bit better...I definitely don't want to leave him...because here's the personality I missed all those months, back with me!
And yet, there have been ongoing expressions of love and support from church folks: friends who came and sat with us in the hospital for several hours, a request to serve on a committee :) , Facebook messages, emails (one friend continues to send Ken jokes periodically, something I requested back in the summer!). I also have one particular dear friend who makes me feel absolutely included in every way. When I walk back through those doors, Mary Ann will not say, "We haven't seen you in a while..." she will hug my neck and act as if I was never gone. She never gives up, for herself or on anyone else.
When the Jr. Daughters of the King, which she directs, made little Valentine cakes for shut-ins in the congregation, she had them make one for Ken, and she got it to me after a few busy days of trying to reach me. She didn't give up! It was beautiful, and it had fresh flowers on top. He was greatly pleased and impressed, and he ate part of it on a day when he hadn't been able to get much else down. It was, therefore, a gift to me as well.
That quality of faith that I will be back, and never giving up on me, that is what God has. God doesn't call me up and pester me when I am away...God just is there, doing what God does. And I see God in Mary Ann today. I am grateful for the quiet waiting and for the extravagant welcome. Thanks be to God.