Prodigals and God's Embrace

Coming up this Sunday, the Fourth Week of Lent is the parable of the Prodigal Son.

What often moves me most about this parable is the importance of touch for  forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

Daniel Bonnell
The Father's Forgiveness

Fr. Rolheiser explains in his book , "Our One Great Act of Fidelity," that  all God's sacraments are examples of God's physical embrace.

He says:  "On the night before His death, having exhausted what He could do with words, Jesus went beyond them. He gave us the Eucharist, His physical embrace, His kiss, a ritual within which He holds us to His heart.
It is where He recognises our need to be physically touched .  

Fr. Ron Rolheiser said that during his theological training, he took three major courses on the Eucharist and, afterwards, decided that he didn’t understand the Eucharist.  He said "But the fault was not in courses, which were excellent. The fault, which is not a fault at all but a marvel, lies in the richness of the Eucharist itself.
G. K. Chesterton once wrote: “There comes a time, usually late in the afternoon, when the little child tires of playing policeman and robbers. It’s then that he begins to torment the cat!” Mothers, with young children, are only too familiar with this late afternoon hour and its particular dynamic. 

There comes an hour, usually just before supper, when a child’s energy is low, when it is tired and whining, and when the mother has exhausted both her patience and her repertoire of warnings: “Leave that alone! Don’t do that!” 

 The child, tense and miserable , is clinging to her leg. At that point, she knows what to do. She picks up the child. Touch, not word, is what’s needed. In her arms, the child grows calm and tension leaves its body.

Jesus Heals A Child
Daniel Bonnell

That’s an image for the Eucharist. We are that tense, over-wrought child, perennially tormenting the cat. There comes a point, even with God, when words aren’t enough.

 God has to pick us up, like a mother her child. Physical embrace is what’s needed. Skin needs to be touched. God knows that. It’s why Jesus gave us the Eucharist."

Daniel Bonnell

Come to this table, not because you must but because you may, 
not because you are strong, but because you are weak.

The Prodigal and The Father
Daniel Bonnell 
Come, not because any goodness of your own gives you a right to come, 
but because you need mercy and help.

The Lost Sheep
Daniel Bonnell
Come, because you love the Lord a little and would like to love Him more.

Come, because He loved you and gave Himself for you.

Come and meet the risen Christ, for we are his Body.

Come, when you are fearful, to be made new in love.

Come, when you are doubtful, to be made strong in faith.

Jesus Wept by Daniel Bonnell
Come, when you are regretful, and be made whole.
Come, old and young, there is room for all.”

-- Text From “Gathering for Worship” - Christopher J. Ellis, Myra Blyth

This Sunday is also called Gaudete Sunday; a time in Lent for some rejoicing and I think these two hymns are beautiful ways to bring home the reason for our joy even in this season when days may be tinged with "Bright Sadness."

This is the Good News !

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