March 11, 2023
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University-Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 240

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Praying Lent

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Family Prayer in Lent

"My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found."

The week was one of the toughest in my life. My son had dropped out of college to marry his girlfriend and join the Air Force. At age 18. And I had to tell my parents, who could guess why. 

My mom responded, “You will never regret standing by your child.” Never has an email meant more. I thought of this as I meditated on the familiar story of the Prodigal Son and why the father reacted as he did. 

Even after attending a Creighton Lenten series focusing on this parable, I respond to it emotionally more than intellectually. I empathize with the hurt and anger of the faithful older brother while resonating to the father’s joy at his son’s return. Heck, relief used to wash over me when a teen’s car lights appeared in the driveway after curfew!

I know that the father’s response mirrors God’s love for us and his unconditional willingness to forgive us for our misdeeds.

Parents, especially, get this because their intense bonds with their children tend to withstand even great hurt and disappointment. It’s a heart thing.

Since the goal of this parable is to teach us about God’s limitless mercy and love, the story ends after making that point. However, in our  “prodigal families,” we struggle with how to move through the fraught days ahead.

This parable provides no explicit guidance for that, but we can draw helpful lessons from it. The father presumably survived the interminable period when his son was gone through faith and hope that he would eventually return. God did not abandon him during that awful period. Nor will God abandon us.

Somewhat irrationally I cling to the cliché that when God closes a door, he opens a window. That’s not always true but often it is.

I’m delighted to report that more than 20 years later, my son has retired from the Air Force after an outstanding career in which he received numerous commendations.  Defying the odds, he and his wife have a strong marriage and three wonderful children. Like all families, we have our ups and downs but we’re on excellent terms. And I thank God for this.
If your child is in a crisis, I hope this parable comforts you and that you will follow my mom’s compassionate advice. You will never regret standing by your child.

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