……from your Pastor’s Desk
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU !!!!
As of this writing [March 23rd, we have already raised over $22,000 dollars for the Ukraine people. Yes, I said, $22,000 !!! I believe a few more checks will be coming in, and if so, we will compile the amount and send it ASAP. WOW! You are the best!
Have you noticed the way dogs hang their heads and grovel when they are scolded, wheedling their way back into good graces?
To us humans it looks as if they are saying “I’m really, really sorry for what I did, and please, please, please forgive me. To make up for it, I will do any base thing you want.”
And poor prodigal son in this week’s Gospel. Like a dog at Easter table, this son ate up his father’s money on riotous living in a faraway country. Obviously, he would run out of funds, but was having too much fun to notice.
Then there came the terrible famine.
This once pampered youth now had to feed somebody’s herd of pigs just to live. He would have been happy to gobble their husks.
It took a while for the truth to hit him, what he had done to himself and to his family. He first noticed indeed that he was starving. He made a forced but perhaps humble decision to go back to his father and ask for mercy, hanging his head just like dogs do. “Please, please, please, please forgive me.”
He dragged down the dusty road to his father’s estate, practicing his speech over and over.
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. (Gospel)
In other words, he would “grovel and do any base thing needed.” He would even admit the sins he was so embarrassed about.
You and I might have such an occasion too.
Often we are terrified that anyone even would know our faults. And we think God will respond with rage against us if he finds out. So we make Lenten “firm purposes of amendment,” and urge our New Year’s promises (or whatever else). We want to be “worthy” before God, with our sins hidden from sight.
But in the parable does this father fold his arms and put on a “parental” angry face? No. He spots far down the road his prodigal son (who is still memorizing his lines) and sets out running to the lost one. See them meet, enveloped in thirsty road-dust. Father embraces his son and kisses him. The boy tries to blunder his lines.
Father, I have sinned terribly! I am no longer worthy of …
But his dad drowns him out, calling for the finest robe in the house, a ring for the boy’s finger, sandals for his feet, and a huge banquet of celebration. This father shows that he does indeed understand. And he is ecstatic that his son came home.
Apply that now to you and me. We assume that God is angry. Our shame says, “Father, I am no good. I am totally unworthy.”
But God is saying, “I know what you have done, child. You needn’t cower. You are precious to me, not because you never sin. I know that it can happen, and I am all forgiveness! Come, come, have back your brothers, sisters, neighbors and, most of all, your Father.
“Let me hug you.”
Because he invites us so close to his heart, God is most willing to absorb the losses we inflict. Even if we were to join forces with evil in the world, God would wait and pray, welcome us back, sins and all, with open arms. And help us overcome the evil that plagues the world.
By the way, notice that Jesus’ arms are wide open on the cross.
John Foley, SJ