Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15.11-24
The story of the prodigal son, one familiar to us all. When we hear it or read it we so often remain focused on the prodigal son or his older brother. We remain caught up in their trespasses and sins for we see the story in ourselves. There is nothing wrong in admitting our failings and sinfulness – in fact it does us good to acknowledge these and even confess them – there is a freedom found. I know for myself I discover a glimpse of this freedom in the simple Jesus Prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God have mercy on me a sinner.”
This prayer has become a powerful prayer for me. Its simple words and repetitive style help me acknowledge my sinfulness but does not allow me to dwell there. This prayer brings me into the generous mercy of our living and loving God.
This simple prayer reminds me of the Father of the prodigal son. He who has loved his son regardless of the son’s actions. He doesn’t stay focused on the sin rather he lavishes love, mercy, acceptance, worth and holiness on his son. This is our God who sees our sinfulness as a tiny pebble in the rock pile. Our God who focuses on love for us rather than our stumbling ways. Our God wo delights in us and even in our weakness sees our goodness for we are created in the image of God. Our God who comes to us with a royal garment, a jewelled ring claiming how worthy and we loved we are because we have turned to God and simply said: I’m sorry. God’s love is beyond our words, actions, repenting and seeking forgiveness. God’s love penetrates all of who we are, in every breath taken and we are transformed again and again. We are embraced for the God is good and we are to taste and see this goodness which calls us to life.
Filled with compassion O God
You wrap your arms around us
In delight and great joy
You never hold us down in our shame.
You call us by our name O God
You see our worth and good
For we are created in your image
You remove all that is not of you.
We are called to life again O God
By your amazing love and generosity
You wrap us in the mantle of your goodness
Rejoicing over us and our return.
Listen! Listen to me! you declare O God
You are always with me
All that is mine is yours
Come and celebrate for I call you to life.
Lenten Blessings of peace and all good.