|Returning to a loving God, or continuing with deep seated rebellion, and wandering alone?|
One Lenten author wrote this: “I remember a mother coming to talk to me about her drug addicted son. He had been a trial to his family for a long time. He had lied to his mother, stolen from her, and even physically threatened her. He would leave home or be asked to leave but he would always return. I asked the mother why she kept putting up with this misery. She said simply, ‘Love always hopes.'”
We welcome, attend and support community initiatives or forums which work on ways of responding to drug or other addictions.
However, we sometimes try to give up on a relationship. Nothing can take the relationship away, however.
We may want to give up on the poor and suffering, or refugees like those from Syria today. But history shows that the future of any society depends on how it treats the poor, the elderly, and children.
We try to give up on difficult relationships, but we find ‘famine’ in their absence.
Divine love never runs low on hope. If one person ‘gives up’, another may step in to heal the breach. At the time of the breakup of my parents’ marriage, my grandfather became a father figure to me, who came to me in my grief and aloneness; and had compassion on me; and embraced me in countless ways.
Lk 15.11-32: “Yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
“Henri Nouwen was so taken by Rembrandt’s painting that he wrote The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (1992).” In the custom of that region of the Mediterranean, for the child to ask for their inheritance was tantamount to wishing the parent dead. What a wound in a parent’s heart! Yet, the loving Father did not give up. Note that no one told the father that the son was coming home. The father personally waited and with his own eyes strained for the first far off sign of a familiar figure returning home – so it cannot have been a very productive time on the farm!
The loving father’s eyes became fixed on something that the farm workers could not see. They still could not see what it was, while the Father was already running across the field, taking the shortest way to intercept the thin, lone figure of his son, coming home.
The son suffered adversity. If adversity brings us home, let adversity roll on. As Shakespeare said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity / Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous/ Wears yet a precious jewel in his head” (As You Like It Act 2 Sc I).
God works and waits to bring us home. Our parents and our children wait to have us come home, in our hearts, to them.
Is this to be yet one more day on which our response to them is that of a stone heart? Or can we allow our hard hearts to break, can we allow ourselves not to creep home, but to “run” home, home to God, home to parents, home to children. We do not merely greet them politely, but rather fall on their necks and kiss them. This is the very picture of the servant in Phil 2.
Do you experience a “famine” in space between yourself and God, or between yourself and a parent or a child? If so, then here is the feast of the new creation in Christ: community. “Hear, o Israel: love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your being, and all of your mind, and your neighbour”– parents, children, and the suffering stranger–“as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”