Thursday, March 7, 2013

With arms always open

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
March 10, 2013

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

For many, God is anything but someone who is able to bring joy to their lives. Thinking about Him brings bad memories -- the idea of a threatening and demanding being, who makes life annoying, uncomfortable and dangerous, is aroused inside them.

Little by little they have dispensed with Him. Faith has been "repressed" inside them. Today, they don't know if they believe or not. They have been left without paths to God. Some still remember "the parable of the prodigal son," but they've never heard it in their hearts.

The real protagonist of that parable is the father. He repeats the same cry of happiness twice: "This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found." This cry reveals what is in his heart as a father.

This father doesn't care about his honor, his own interests, or how his children treat him. He doesn't use moralizing language. He only thinks of his son's life -- that it not be destroyed, that he not remain dead, that he not be lost without knowing the joy of life.

The story describes in full detail the surprising meeting of the father with the son who had abandoned the home. While he was still far away, the father "saw" him coming, hungry and humiliated, and he "was moved" to the very heart. That good look, filled with kindness and compassion, is what saves us. Only God looks at us like that.

Then he "starts running." It's not the son who comes home. It's the father who runs out and seeks the embrace with more ardor than his own son. "He threw his arms around him and started to kiss him." That's how God always is...running with open arms towards those who come back to Him.

The son begins his confession -- he has prepared it a long time inside himself. The father interrupts him to save him from more humiliation. He doesn't impose any punishment on him, he doesn't require any ritual of expiation, he doesn't put any condition at all on welcoming him home. Only God welcomes and protects sinners this way.

The father thinks only of his son's dignity. He must act quickly. He orders the best clothes, the son's ring and sandals to be brought to enter the house. Thus he will be received at a banquet that will be celebrated in his honor. With his father, the son will know a worthy and blessed life that he has not enjoyed far from him.

Anyone who hears this parable from outside, won't understand anything. They will go on walking through life without God. Anyone who listens to it from the heart, will perhaps weep with joy and thankfulness. For the first time they will feel that in the ultimate mystery of life there is Someone who welcomes and forgives us because He only wants our happiness.

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