Friday, March 25 2022
This week, we read the story of the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15: 11-32. Most of us are most familiar with this parable, but the lectionary actually takes us back to the beginning of Luke 15: All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Jesus goes on the share two parables depicting loss. The first, is the parable of the lost sheep. If even one out of the hundred is lost, the Good Shepherd of us all will leave the other ninety-nine and go search for the one who is lost. When found, there is much rejoicing and celebration. The message to the Pharisees and Scribes is that there is more joy in heaven over just one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine who believe they are righteous and need no repentance. The second parable is about a lost coin. “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15: 10. These parables say much about the character of God, whose love pours forth in measures we cannot even comprehend. They clearly remind us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, that we can rest in the safety of God’s arms if we are willing to turn and return to God when we have strayed – even like lost sheep – and we have all erred and strayed.
The parable of the Prodigal Son takes our lostness a little further. When we allow the words of our confession to flow through us – the words that say, “we have sinned against you in thought word and deed”, God, as represented by the father in this story, will not just rejoice when we turn toward him, but will actually run towards us. We, in fact are met on our way home by a loving and forgiving God.
In the rabbinic literature of Pesikta Rabbati, the story of turning and returning is summed up like this:
“A King had a son who had gone astray from his father on a journey of a hundred days. His friends said to him, ‘Return to your father.’ He said, ‘I cannot.’ Then his father sent word, ‘Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to you.’ So, God says, ‘Return to me, and I will return to you.’”
We are in Lent, a time when we are called to quiet our minds and search our hearts. Where is it that we are being blocked from returning – returning to our loved ones, returning to church, but most of all returning to God. May we continue our Lenten journey with open hearts knowing that our most loving and gracious God is already celebrating our homecoming!
In God’s love,
Deacon Claire Mis