Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Once again we are invited into the amazing drama of the father with his two sons. One son remains by his father’s side, faithfully tending to the duties of farm and household. The second son is restless, unwilling to do all that his brother is busy with, and so he chooses to run off and leads a life that is unworthy of both himself and his family name. Yet, as often as I read this unforgettable parable of the Lord, I am always drawn to the immeasurable mercy and kindness of the father. I can only imagine his embarrassment when his prodigal son ran off to live a life of sin and self-centeredness. Surely everyone wondered what had happened to him. Surely many others already knew the truth of his choosing to be the "black sheep" of the family. Yet, through it all, the father never forgets his love for his beloved son.
Week after week here at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center I find myself sitting with parents who have sons and daughters that are "prodigal." I find myself amazed at their willingness to keep forgiving even the worst, most selfish behavior of a son or a daughter who has one child or more, yet has chosen to immerse themselves in a life of alcohol and drug abuse. The grandparents, many of whom are hardly young, so willingly become parents again, only this time it is to their grandchildren. At the same time, like the father of the prodigal son, they refuse to stop loving or give up on their son or daughter. Their love is constant and endures even in the midst of embarrassment, hardship, and suffering. Their love is like the love of the father in today’s parable. Their love so beautifully mirrors the very love of God, our Father, whose mercy knows no limits.
Today we can all thank God for the many people who come into our lives and who remind us by their example of the great mercy and kindness of our God.
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.