Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Coming Home

“'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast.” – Lk 15:21-23

The spiritual life is essentially a homecoming. It is a coming home to the deepest truth of ourselves as God’s beloved children: that we belong to God, no matter what. Whether we have wandered afar in search of life or belonging beyond our spiritual home in the boundless heart of God (like the younger son in today’s Gospel) or have been lost in fear without ever going away (like the older son), God’s unconditional love is offered freely and fully. God yearns for us to rejoice in our dignity as beloved sons and daughters. Like the father who rushes out of the house to embrace the errant younger son and leaves the celebration to welcome the resentful older son into the great banquet, God longs for us come home to one another.

Such homecoming involves a daunting task: allowing ourselves to be seen as we are, without self-condemnation. While we long for such transparency, we harbor secret thoughts, feelings, and fears. We often think, “If people really know what I think or feel, they would run away.” Those guarded secrets can lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions. They are the loud voices within that clamor: “what you have done is beyond God’s merciful love” or “you are not worthy of such love.” They prevent us from the grateful recognition that we are pure gift and precious in God's eyes.

Our homecoming involves allowing the inner voice of mercy and love to take hold of us and move us beyond self-rejection to live as God’s beloved children.

Lord, Jesus, what keeps me from my homecoming in you? Help me in the next three weeks of Lent to be more fully seen by you or by another.

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