SECOND WEEK OF LENT                                                                     Saturday, March 18
Matthew Thibeau
Director of Strategic
Planning/Initiatives

 

Forgiveness Is Hard!

 

“So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”  -Luke 15:20

 

   In Luke 15:1-3, we see that the audience for the parable of the prodigal son/the forgiving father/wounded loyalist is the Pharisees, not the disciples. Those in authority, not those who wonder. Those who seek to rule, not those looking for leaders. Do the lessons learned from the parable vary based on who is the listener, or are we all Pharisees and    disciples, saints and sinners, leaders and followers at the same time?

 

   This parable is often interpreted as God being the father, welcoming his repentant son home. When we leave, sin, and return, God, as the father, welcomes all and asks those who never left to be overjoyed with gladness. Forgive and forget; does that really ever work? Do we not always aspire for forgiveness, being forgiven, and unconditional acceptance? Do we not seek first to be a community of inclusion and welcome? While Jesus sought to form and inform the faithful with this parable, He intended it as a challenge to the Pharisees, more of a mirror than a map.

 

   Forgiveness must be hard!

 

   If one has status, education, position, privilege, and power, it must be difficult not to sit in judgement or seek to extract punishment. It is the curse of having the answers before questions are posed. To be the “us” that condemns the “them.” Jesus challenged the Pharisees, those endowed only with man-made rights, to consider that forgiveness is of foremost importance. Details matter less than desire. A sincere authority creates a unified community without demanding unity.

 

   Must forgiveness be hard?

 

   Today’s world, society, Church, campus, and classroom afford us multiple opportunities to choose to be either a Pharisee or a disciple, often many times in the same day! Lent gives us forty days to reflect on the choices we made to influence the ones we will make. The Trinity offers us grace to live by, and an invitation to engage life. God the Father is and always will be, the Holy Spirit sustains us, and Jesus gives us a model to emulate. Pharisees judge, exclude and rule. Disciples proclaim, welcome, and empower.

 

   If Lent is a season of prayerful reflection then, by design, it leads to an Easter choice. Do we want to be Pharisees or disciples?

 

Loving God, the disciples asked Your Son, "how should we pray?    We know without the answer to that question we cannot walk in relationship with You. Jesus also warns us to not pray like the Pharisees, standing in synagogues and street corners for all to see. As we walk our Lenten journey, Lord, help us remember that the important part of a disciple’s prayer isn't the words; it is the heart behind  the words. May we always beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocrisy.  During our days of self-examination and introspection, may we determine all the more to worship God with a sincere and honest heart, coupled with regard for both the letter and the spirit of His Word with respect that radiates towards all we meet. Amen.

 

Mi 7:14-15, 18-20            Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12           Lk 15:1-3, 11-32