“…and was filled with compassion,” reads the passage
from Luke’s Gospel today (vs. 20). The story of the prodigal son
is a familiar one for many Christians. However, I think it offers a
special chance for reflection this Lent. Lent offers the believer the
opportunity each year to reflect on his/her habits and to recognize
his/her failings, like the son in this particular passage from Luke’s
Gospel. Yet, during this season of Lent, we are also offered to let
go of our burdens and to come join God and rest in Her presence.
Lent is a time of the year in which we are brought face to face with
the reality of our existence as humans, that we, like other living things,
will die. We live in a society that struggles to celebrate death and
in one where death is greatly feared. The culture in the United States,
in my opinion, can be described as dog-eat-dog. Forgiveness is not a
concept that is built into our social mode, just look at the way people
drive in our major cities and the road rage that accompanies many commutes.
We are human beings; we are programmed to make mistakes. Perfection
is beyond our capabilities. This all too familiar gospel story fundamentally
reminds us of this aspect of our lived reality. Forgiveness truly does
have the capacity to move mountains and to change lives because it unites
us in our fundamentally flawed natures and through this union we are
brought to perfection. In forgiving, we are able to imitate one aspect
of God’s nature. Thus, forgiveness, like the father teaches his
eldest son, is the best way we can love those around us.
I find it a privilege to be writing the daily reflection for today because
today marks the twelfth anniversary of my late Grandma Margaret’s
death. Much like the father in the story, she was a woman who practiced
great hospitality. In her gentle nature, she taught me the importance
of compassion, which means to suffer with. The father recognized how
much his son had suffered and was filled with anguish. My grandmother
always believed in the good in others… even if at times it is
covered in a layer of dust or soot. She taught me that some people just
need a little more time to let their colors shine through and it is
worth the wait to see the brilliance.