The Prodigals: Father and Son
In the parable we heard this past Sunday, we have both a prodigal son who spends lavishly and a prodigal father who loves with the same encompassing abandon. For some reason it put me in mind of The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy learns that she has within her the power to return home. She just needs to know her heart’s desire. It evoked questions in me: What is my heart’s desire? What do I gain and what must I sacrifice in seeking it? What do my mistakes along the way teach me? Who helps me, challenges me, welcomes me, celebrates me? When do I become the one who forgives, welcomes and celebrates?
Read Luke 15: 11-32 and then watch the ending of The Wizard of Oz. (If you don’t have a copy, it is easily found on YouTube.) Spend some time with the rich images in both and allow God to speak to your heart’s desire. Perhaps you might begin or end with this prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.
Do you like to listen to music? Do you hum along or sing some of the lyrics of the song and surprise yourself that you even remember them? I think that most people do like music, but if you really take the time to listen to those lyrics that we are singing along with I think that we would discover something important. The songs are great, but so sad. For the most part they talk about lost love or having to watch a significant other going with another person. They might even tell us that they have had too much to drink and could they be forgiven for what they have done to their relationship.
The point is the songs seem hopeless, the relationships dysfunctional and the looming ending will come to no good. There is no permanence, respect for the other or even a glimmer of the possibility of happiness. Those songs, while the music and the beat are catchy, do not paint a life that most of us want to live. Perhaps your life is like that or after hearing the message so much it is accepted that we can’t have a lasting healthy relationship. God did not mean life for us to be hopeless or loveless. God’s love is everlasting, hopeful, respectful and meant to lead us to happiness. Oh, sure we have problems, but if we have someone to walk with our problems carry half the weight.
It is Lent, a time for self-reflection for communication with our best friend: God. The world and pop culture tell us all sorts of nonsense. God’s message is constant and ever loving. God shows us how to love Him and each other. Just because the world’s message is louder does not mean that it is true. The volume gets in the way. God speaks softly. We really must listen. Take some time out to read scripture thoughtfully. Stop in a church and visit your friend God. That would be like going over your best friend’s house. Maybe you’ll be surprised with your conversation.
Bible Vs. Jer. 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm to give you a future with hope.”
Prayer: Oh, Lord, there is so much noise around me. It drowns out your word. I try and try to listen, but I grow very weak and tired. Help me to hear your words of hope and to trust you. I have been betrayed so many times, but then again so were you. It is hard for me to “forgive them” as you showed me. I just want to avoid another relationship, so I fear trying again. Help me to strengthen my relationship with you so that I can recognize the friend that truly loves me. Thank you, Lord for never leaving me.
Sr. Phyllis Ann, O.SS.T.
Longing for God
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I know nothing about the art of shipbuilding, yet the vision offered by French aviator and award-winning author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, suggests a depth of insight beyond mere construction techniques. To me, he speaks eloquently not only of the mystery of the sea, but to that of contemplation!
While volumes have been written about the contemplative encounter, this Divine gift for which we can only prepare springs from our longing for the endless immensity of God. Desire for love opens the door to our relationship with God; one that forms all others, those with self, neighbor and all creation.
Yes, we do pray, we do serve, we do face challenges, but “these tasks” are themselves transformed in and with my Lover, or rather ours, the Lover of us all.
During these wintery days fraught with wind chills and frozen waters, perhaps we are being invited once again to long for the immensity of God. Don’t miss the ship, it sails daily!
I Arise Today
I arise today with winter in my being:
This is my inheritance in this vibrant new season.
I arise today in the heart of winter.
WINTER, HUMBLE SERVANT OF CREATION, with brisk determination you encompass our land. You clothe us into warm wraps, sending us out into the weather to gather the lessons you scatter. You call us to sit by the fireplace and feed each other stories. You invite us to listen to that which is invisible. You are the contemplative season. In unseen and unknown places you faithfully do your work. In the winter storms of our lives, teach us patience. May we learn to trust the goodness of what we cannot see. As the ground becomes frozen may we have the courage to visit the frozen ground of our own lives, believing in the life that is hidden. You clear the air. You protect the seed. You embrace reality. You, O Winter, hold our fears until they can be transformed into trust. You are the beautiful season that we sometimes overlook. Share with us your virtues of solitude, contemplation, and faith. Surround us with your fresh, crisp breath and protect the seed that is sleeping in the depths of our being.
This reflection is taken from The Circle of Life
c 2005 by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.
Used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.