Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
As I read today’s Gospel, one word that stuck in my mind was forgiveness. I remember back to my school days and hearing the story of the Prodigal Son. Much like the older son in the story, I could not understand why the father was so happy and ordered a celebration to hail the return of his younger son after he squandered his inheritance. Now as a parent, I fully understand.
As the mother of two young adult sons I understand the joy the father experienced when he saw his son returning to him. Something I have always told my boys is that "no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how you act, I will always love you." They know our home is their safety zone. In the Gospel, as the son realized he was wrong and wished to seek his father’s forgiveness, he found his faith and was welcomed with open arms to his father’s home.
I made what I feel to be a great leap of forgiveness some years ago. My mother passed away when I was very young and because of my father’s alcoholism, my relationship with him grew very strained. I moved out and went to live with my grandmother and great-grandmother that raised me. I did not see or speak to my father for several years. When I was about 28, he got in touch with me and I went to visit him. As I became an adult, and more importantly a parent, I understood the heavy burden he carried as a young widower and single parent of three. We talked and cried and hugged. I forgave him and we reconciled. He got to meet my husband and children, his grandsons. I think it gave him a sense of peace to know that I did not blame him anymore. Several months after our meeting he passed away. I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to give him the forgiveness he sought and welcome him back.
During this journey of Lent, maybe it is time to seek out forgiveness from those we have mistreated or forgive those who have mistreated us, leading us closer to the salvation that is the Resurrection.
Claire Smith is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.