A Day in the Warmth of the Son

The first of spring’s warm and sunny days are everyone’s joy.  They remind us that the sun did not abandon us, but was quietly accompanying us through the long winter days, shrouded by a haze that required our trust in knowing it would come back out again.  When our trust is rewarded by those first warm days in the spring, there is a gladness that has its special imprint on our memories.  It’s the same with Lent.  The penitential days of Lent seem shrouded in the darkness of our sins, but end in the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Both the gospel for this Sunday and our case study begin with moments of darkness which are overcome by the accompanying presence of pure love.

 

 

 

Gospel LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
 
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
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.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
Reflections from the Group
My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours…
We all can understand the frustration of the older son in this parable, wondering why his faithfulness and duty that he had always given to his father was never celebrated.  What we have to remember is that everything the Father has also belongs to us.  God’s children have constant access to His goodness and His graces.  Our faithfulness matters and we realize that anytime we are struggling and feel the loving presence of God helping us through.
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
Repentance, true contrition for our sin and forgiveness are the gateways to paradise.  When we are humble enough to admit our own sins and really seek God’s mercy, there is a natural abundance for us to pour out to those who have hurt us and also forgive as we have been forgiven.  We must keep in mind that since we are all sinners, each and every one of us can be represented by the second son in this parable.
Coming to his senses he thought…
If we are truly seeking God’s truth in our lives, the Holy Spirit will eventually convict us when we get off course and show us where we need to seek forgiveness.  When we awaken from the sleepy pride that binds us, we ask forgiveness and then receive God’s mercy.
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The Pharisees and scribes are always concerned with the company Christ keeps and then judge him for it.  We too are liable to this temptation and must be aware of our  tendency to look around at others and make unjust decisions about them.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at our church teaches the young children with this parable in an effective way with reconciliation.  As the children prepare to take their First Communion by confessing their sins for the first time, they are reminded of the reaction of the father in this parable, running to his son and embracing him, quick to forgive and pouring out love.  Like the son, we do not need to be afraid of our father’s reaction when we mess up.  We need to return home with real sorry for our sin, and before we can reach the summit, our Loving Father will be there ready to embrace us.
Unfortunately, sometimes we let ourselves go too low before we seek forgiveness, and it becomes more difficult and we want to run and hide, like Adam and Even in the garden.  The only thing we do when we avoid confessing our sins is chain ourselves to them unnecessarily.  Run, don’t walk to admit your mistakes and seek God’s loving embrace.  He is waiting with open arms.
A Day In The Warmth of the Son
A few weeks ago we had a case about a husband who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  While his wife and mother of their five children–one, a newborn–tried to nurse him through his illness, she also needed to manage things at home.  Recognizing their stressful situation, families in their faith community made plans to help.  The husbands of these families took turns sitting by their friend throughout his hospitalization; a beautiful witness to loving friendship and self-sacrifice.
This past week, these men had to say good-bye to their friend, and his wife to her husband.  As he neared the end of his life, his friends came together to accompany him as long as they could.  They kept vigil by his side until he passed quietly away at home.  Before he died however, they decided to bring him some joy.  The warm spring days here in Nashville were ripe with budding trees of white, pink and purple flowers. The sounds of birds were mixed in with intermittent hums of lawn-mowers, kids playing, and balls bouncing.  Like the gospel reading where the friends lowered the sick man on a mat down through the ceiling to see Jesus, these men also rigged a cot-like bed to be taken outside together where they too, placed their friend on his “mat” before the Lord.  The warm rays of the “Son” shone down on his face, illuminating the hope that a spring day can offer, and the comfort of knowing that “perpetual light” would soon be shining upon him.
Theological Virtue: Charity
Cardinal Virtue: Justice and Fortitude
Human Virtues: Vigilance, Care, Fidelity
How we will pray: We will give the Lord our moments of discomfort this week as an offering for this family who is now mourning their husband and father.
How we will act:  Like these faithful friends, we will seek to “accompany” someone this week, particularly at our Lent By Candlelight event where we often welcome new people.  We will be sure to reach out to strangers, get to know someone new, or invite someone to sit with us at our table who seems alone or uncomfortable.

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Warmth of the Son

  1. What a touching post! I am sad for the woman who lost her husband but so touched by the men who got the man outside to enjoy Spring! God is gracious to us in spite of ourselves, isn’t he? And aren’t we all glad for His forgiveness of our sins!! Blessings Meg. Have a great week in Jesus!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Val! It was bitter sweet…the story from the friends was even more heart-warming. Truly Christ-like to accompany someone to meet Jesus. Thank you friend! God bless you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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