God’s incredible love
By Augustine Kintu Seminarian, Archdiocese of Port of Spain
LUKE 15:1–3, 11–32
The Parable of the Prodigal Son or of the “merciful father”, shows us the heart of the heavenly Father, while it calls us to take stock of our human relationships.
In a General Audience on Fatherhood (February 4, 2015), Pope Francis reflected on the father in the parable. “What dignity and what tenderness there is in the expectation of that father, who stands at the door of the house waiting for his son to return!” The good father, he said, “knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart”.
We are all born into a family, whether with both parents or a single parent or by adoption. This suggests a relationship between the parent (father and/or mother) and child. But, in the first place, we are children of a tender loving God, Abba/ Papa.
There is an undeniable bond, a relationship between God and us, His children, that must be fostered. St Paul affirms this in his Letter to the Galatians. He wrote, “through faith, you are all children of God through Christ Jesus” (3:26). By belonging to a Christian family and to Papa God, we share in God’s life, His grace at work in us.
In the parable, the relationship is broken, disrupted by the young son’s demand for the share of his father’s property. He knowingly and willingly cuts himself off, not only from the life of his father, but also from the family.
Normally, in most cultures, the father’s property is divided and shared only after his death. The young son’s bold but selfish move wished his father’s death. Despite the young son’s unreasonable decision, to “squander his inheritance on a life of dissipation” (Lk 15:13), the father still loved and missed him so much. In his great despair while he lived among the swine, the father’s bond with the son was never severed. Even though he left the presence of the father, the father’s presence, and love never left him. He was always in his father’s heart.
Just imagine how incredible God’s love is for us. Indeed, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rm 8:38–39). God never abandons us; He is always waiting on us to come to our senses, to acknowledge our stupidity and confess our sins. He longs for us to be back in His embrace, back to the original relationship and within the fold of His family.
Several times we behave like the young son, engaging in sinful behaviours or habits that are inflamed by our negative passions and desires, which do not fit into Christian values.
This Lenten season must cause us to ponder: what is my relationship with Papa God like?
Just like the young son, our passions and desires amputate us from the life and family of God. Such passions are manifested in the form of concupiscence—lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 Jn 2:15–16; §2514, Catholic Catechism).
Judge no one.
How many times, in our self-righteousness, have we played the elder son?
Several times, we pass harsh judgements on others, writing a whole book about them, whether from our positions of authority as we exercise our responsibilities as elders in the home, in the Church community, in our workplaces etc.
We are called to “love the sinner and hate the sin” (St Augustine, Letter 21, c 424).
The saddened but undaunted father invites the elder son to enter once more into relationship with him and his brother, to participate in his mercy. This is also God’s call for us in this season: Show mercy to others.
Let us pray to Papa God:
That our relationship, our bond with God may be restored and strengthened, especially during this Lenten season.
That when we are tempted to despair, we may always remember that God’s incredible love is stronger than the sin that wants to tear us apart.
That we stop judging and blaming others, but be ready to show warmth, accepting and loving them.
That in loving God and our brothers and sisters, we may all share in God’s life, our inheritance, through Christ Jesus. Amen.
The gospel reflections for March were by seminarians of the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict, Tunapuna.