Monday, March 4, 2013

Can I have fries with that?: Reflection on LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Can I have fries with that?: Reflection on LK 15:1-3, 11-32

As many of you may remember, my dad Vince was a pretty good public speaker. He was a natural, but he really worked hard at making what he had to say come together in a special way. Occasionally he would use a prop of some description to make his point. I remember one time I was admiring a prop he was going to use in a speech that evening…and of course I broke it. I shouldn’t have been messing with it, and I broke it. There was no time to replace it. I knew what I had done, and I was really sorry. There was also no doubt about who did it…so I just waited. When he came through the room to pick up his prop, there I was…he saw me standing there with the pieces of the prop in my hands. “I broke it!” I said, not that it wasn’t really, really obvious. He wasn’t happy, but when he saw the look on my face, he immediately smiled and said “…it’s ok, I forgive you.” I can still remember vividly that warm feeling, that sense of relief. There just is nothing like forgiveness…nothing…like forgiveness.

Here we are, two weeks into Lent…and for a lot of people…like me for instance…it’s not going the way we planned. We’re not making the good choices we said we would; What-A-Burger still looks pretty good, and I’ve never seen it listed under “things to eat while you are fasting and abstaining”. We are so easily called away from prayer. Will we ever get it right?

In today’s gospel, we hear probably the most popular story of forgiveness ever told. We never tire of hearing it, and it always makes us feel the same way each time it’s told. What is it about this particular story that is so compelling? Why does it hit us with such force? This story is about bad choices; it’s about loss and sorrow; it’s about resentment and about jealousy; it’s about dashed hopes and expectations; it’s about sadness and joy; it’s about a father and his sons; it’s about God, and us… it’s about relationships…and it’s about forgiveness.

God made us special…we are the only creatures made in his image and likeness. We are free to choose how we will live our lives; we are free to reject his Grace and his love; we are free to sin…and through all of that freedom and choice, we are always his children, and he is always our father. We need to run to him, and tell him “O God, I am so sorry…I am so very sorry…for all of those things…” and then brace ourselves for those words “…I forgive you.”   W.W.