Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
We are all familiar with today’s Gospel lesson, the Parable of The Prodigal Son. It is a story that has always challenged me spiritually, especially in this Lenten season. The first time I remember critically thinking about it, was when I was about 10 years old. I was frustrated by the unfairness. As a middle child of three girls, I was always concerned with keeping everything fair. If the one son stayed home and behaved, working hard the whole time, shouldn’t he at least get to skip his chores or have an ice cream cone as a reward? Why does his naughty younger brother get the big party?
This is a natural reaction for us as humans trying to “find favor” with God. The Pharisees with whom Jesus talks certainly have this attitude when they scoff at Jesus welcoming tax collectors and sinners. We only need to look to the Psalm of the day to find God’s loving responses for our concerns.
“Why does the father not punish his son who squandered the inheritance? This is no small sin; shouldn’t the father’s retribution equal this?” we ask.
“He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.”
“But the son! He chose this destructive pathway, and willingly destroyed his relationship with the father!”
“He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.”
“Surely no father would ever be that forgiving!”
“As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.”
Our Father in heaven is that forgiving. We behave in ways that squanders our inheritance from Him of this earth and harms our relationships with God and with our brothers and sisters. Yet He welcomes us home, rushing to meet us when we are yet a long way off.
In a few weeks, Jesus will stretch out his own hands from the East to the West in his crucifixion, displaying his unconditional forgiveness for us as sinners. This limitless love and forgiveness is not easily attained or understood by us as the people of God. Lent is a time of reflection on our sins and transgressions, finding ways to grow in relationship with God and other people. We can find comfort in the knowledge that God is this everlasting love and forgiveness, no matter how far we stray, or how big our mistakes.
Chelsea Jaeger is a senior in the School of Public Health.