The Home Coming Welcome
In Luke’s gospel today (Lk.15: 1-3, 11-32), we hear the story of the father who welcomed home his son. The son who had taken his full inheritance, started a whole new life far away and blew his wad on adventures that were not life giving. In a moment of deep insight and humility he goes back home asking to be taken on as hired help by his father. The father sees in his son, not someone who squandered everything, but rather he meets him heart to heart, a child who was dead and has now come to life.
In the latter part of the story we meet the father’s hard working son, who is furious when he hears about the party and kindness that the father is offering the returned son. Understandably, tough words come from the older son, questioning this generosity for the younger son. And more to the point, words questioning why the father has not done this for him, who has stayed and worked. The father then speaks to this son all he has belongs to the son, he only needs to ask for what he wants or needs.
This gospel of Luke is tough. I have each of these primary actors living in my cells and at different moments each of them show up in my words and actions. This morning I remembered the last few days of my mom’s dying process. Each of us in our own way had “growing experiences” that had created wrinkles on Mom’s face. All of us had at different points in our lives spent our wads in ways that were contrary to popular wisdom. Some of us had not been as present to her during her old age, and others of us had wanted more from her in praise. (Much like the older son in the story.)
On those final days, each of us was present to mom in all of our humanness, each speaking and asking for what was needed. My Mom was also very present. As each of us spoke to her of both our love for her and any stories that separated us, to that child she would speak of her love for him or her. She held her adult sons and daughters in her arms as we cried. She created a banquet of love as she too, expressed her care and love for each.
I have to admit, there were times as this loving forgiveness was given out, that I was like the older son…still harboring memories of times when I witnessed my mom’s disappointment about this situation or that situation. Yet, who was I to hold back her freedom to forgive and love, the truth was that I too had experienced her love and forgiveness to me during those sacred days.
I witnessed in my Mom a reflection of the kind of love that God always embraces me…I also witnessed in myself places where God’s love is waiting to be embraced and lived.