This Tremendous Lover

Scripture     Luke 15:1-3; 11-32


So he set off and went to his father.

But while he was still far off, his father saw him

and was filled with compassion;

he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him…

Then the father said to the elder son,

 “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.



This 4th week of Lent invites us to take a closer look at all the relationships within our family. The 'home' is a microcosm of the entire human family and it is here where the dignity and equality of all persons  must be celebrated. Yet here also is where many undergo difficulties and estrangements; some get overlooked, others get praised; some are envious and others boastful. How are we to suffer through the challenges of immature teenagers and young adults making unreasonable and excessive demands on the family's home life and peace of mind? Then there is the most difficult rupture, separation and divorce. After the shocking announcement of this news, there are the individual stories of “all the places we go” as family members are hurting and trying to come to terms with the consequences of such a radical rupture to the family’s unity.
Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son offers us some refreshing insights into the capacity of the human heart to reach out in mercy and forgiveness and possibly even reconciliation with all family members. There is a particular suffering and transformation each one must pass through. The healing process will take considerable time along with God’s grace working interiorly in all the persons involved. At some time in our journey, we discover that there is a prodigal son/daughter, an elder son/daughter and a prodigal father/mother in each one of us. All aspects of our personality are being challenged to first of all, accept our reality, name the truth, seek forgiveness and if possible, strive for genuine reconciliation.

Jesus teaches us …

Look closely. In this father there is no rupture in any of the relationships. Love goes on even when his own son leaves home, squanders half his estate on frivolous things. Love goes on even when his son is struggling out there in the world - poor, starving, eating leftovers and working as a hired man on a farm. This father’s love even recognizes the stirring of contrition within the heart of his son while he is still off at a distance. And it is this sending of loving-peace-energy towards his estranged son that strengthens the prodigal's resolve to ‘turn around’ and come home. The Great Love draws this father every day to the crest of the hill to look for the returning of his son. Yes, this Love is patient, is kind, endures all things, hopes all things and believes all things are possible.



A tremendous love is built up and ready to overflow through him when he sees him, runs to him and bends over him in blessing and kisses his repentant son. In the extravagance of this love, he calls for a celebration with all the family and friends. Truly, a feast must be prepared with fatted calf, fresh robes and even a ring. Extravagant gestures for a son’s homecoming. Grace abounds!



All the while, the father’s love reaches out to his elder son who has stayed home and been with him through this long ordeal of separation and loneliness. ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” There is no rupture in his loving this son even when he sees how frozen his heart is becoming, agitated with resentment and jealousy. He watches as he pulls away from him in annoyance at this show of affection for his brother. This father’s tremendous love can hold together the tension of these opposites. The Great Love unites, bonds together, and heals these contradictions between the brothers. There is such an incredible strength in the father’s compassion.  



Jesus is calling each one of us to become such ‘fathers and mothers of compassion’ not just for our own families, but for our parishes, communities, neighborhoods. And the good news Gospel is that we have received a capacity for this. Yes, God’s Great Love lives in us and flows through us when we admit that we cannot love like this without God’s grace. In transforming union it happens that:

“I love through his love and with his love,
 I humble myself through his humility and together with his profound elf-emptying:
 I see through his eyes,
 I speak through his words;
 in a word, I exist only through him and I act only through his actions.”
    - Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ,
When more persons start to become filled with this quality of forgiveness and compassion, there will be  more walls of estrangement being broken down. There will be many prodigals taking responsibility for their selfish and immature actions and asking for restoration of the rifts and ruins that have been the consequences of their actions. And then, there will be many Homecoming celebrations! Let the party begin. Who does not dream of the day when we as one giant human family, finally learn how to live upon this earth as ‘dear children of God’; all of us together cherishing each other at the party of Life, Life more abundantly in the kingdom of God.



Carrying Grace    I will do my part. I desire to receive an infusion of this Divine Compassion to heal one relationship in my life.   



#4 jeanpault 2010-03-14 13:03
>All that is mine is yours: all the love and care I have , my richness, is also yours. It is possible for me and others to have and be all that the Father is. J.P.
#3 arletteh 2010-03-13 15:24
"The Father's tremendous Love can hold together the tension of the opposites".Mark d continues this theme , as he sees a blurring of the images. The union comes through the compassion of the Father,ever watchful, ever vulnerable in his compassion, and thus, ever open to Love.Held in the Father's heart are the profligateness and adventuresomene ss of the younger son,as he goes far afield to find his identity, and ,on the other hand, the unfruitful "groundedness" , the unrisked life of the older son.May this call to us to Compassion, help us to accept all "otherness!" Lord, have mercy!
#2 Mark Dickinson 2010-03-13 03:06
Becoming Human is becoming like Jesus. Becoming Divine is becoming like the Father. We when begin to see the 2 images blurred together -- one Person, one Life, one Mission -- we finally begin to see our own mission: to care as the Father, to love as the Mother, to heal as the One, to be as the Son.
#1 Mark Dickinson 2010-03-13 02:57
What a beautiful reflection! THANK YOU, Rosemary.
Henri Nouwen, in his remarkable book The Return of the Prodigal Son, reminds us that "there is more. A child does not remain a child. A child becomes an adult. An adult becomes a father and mother. When the prodigal son returns home, he returns not to remain a child, but to claim his sonship and become a father himself. As the returned child of God who is invited to resume my [our] place in my Father's home, the challenge now, yes the call, is to become the Father myself .... there is a call beyond the call to return. It is the call to become the Father who welcomes home and calls for a celebration. Having reclaimed my sonship, I now have to claim fatherhood."
Jesus sees the journey not as becoming sons, but as becoming fathers. Just as He is seen as the Father, so are we to become like the father. And this becomes the call to each one of us: to see like Jesus, to live like Jesus, to be like Jesus. Becoming Human is becoming like Jesus. Becoming Divine is becoming like the Father. We when begin to see the 2 images blurred together -- one Person, one Life, one Mission -- we finally begin to see our own mission: to be as the Father, to love as the Mother, to care as the One, to heal as the Son.

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