Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Father’s Love

The Prodigal Son is a parable that has been reflected and spoken about so many times in so many different ways and in so many different contexts. I myself have considered various aspects from the parable in my previous blogs, and will speak about it still more. And yet, the parable’s beauty, eloquence and wholeness is never lost or diminished in spite of so many repetitions.

Today I would like to ponder upon it from the father’s point of view.

The father in The Prodigal Son is, to my mind, the greatest example of love that we can see in the Gospels. A love that is complete, whole, non-blaming, a love that accepts all and gives all, a love that does not keep a record of wrongs – and in this case wealth or rights or claims –  a love that doesn’t judge or criticize, a love that simply forgives and never questions, a love that trusts again in spite of the hurt and betrayal, a love that hopes and waits and rejoices when the hope is fulfilled, a love that is patient and kind, a love that is not happy with wrongdoing but bears all things and endures all things.

Did I just quote 1Cor 13:4-7, the verses that describe love in the most perfect form? Yes, the love of the father we see here is so perfect and absolute, that it surpasses all the other examples of love in the Bible or elsewhere.

That’s how our Father in Heaven loves us and that’s how Jesus loves us.

Isn’t it an amazing feeling to simply think that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us in such an incredible way that, it is difficult to find words to describe it? He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). And the Son loved all those who were His own, and He loved the unto the end (Jn 13:1).

And now, even as I write this post, I stand to realize that so many times have I forgotten, doubted and questioned this fountain of love and mercy. This, I am sure, has happened with most, if not all, of us. Why is not possible for us to simply believe that such a love exists and to simply trust in the abundance of God’s mercy? Why do we doubt in spite of repeated sermons and reminders about God’s eternal love?

The answer is simple. We, as humans, are simply not capable of such a love and therefore can’t think of it existing anywhere in the world or in the Universe and beyond. We need to be touched by such a love to understand it in human terms.

For St. Therse of Child Jesus, it was through her parents and siblings that she learnt the meaning and touch of love. St. Monica transformed her estranged son, St. Augustine, through 30 years of tearful prayers. I am sure it is her love and sacrifices for her son that brought him back to faith and is today known as one of the greatest saints in the Christian history.

St. Paul experienced the love of Christ crucified in flash of a moment and his life changed forever. From being the persecutor of the Church, he became the persecuted. Jesus spoke to St. Ignatius of Loyola through ‘The Imitation of Christ’ and transformed him from a war soldier to a warrior for Christ.

Likewise, many of us have experienced the love of God through various means in our life – some through their parents, some through their friends, some through their life-partner, etc. But, all their love put together is incomplete and cannot compete with the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father. Human as we are and God as He is, is there a means for us to experience this abundance of Love and Mercy?

There is a brilliant source through which we can experience God and His love and mercy. And this source is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. It can touch our souls and fill it with His love and mercy.

It is in the Confessional that the Lord waits for the return of the prodigal. It is here that Christ pours out His mercy on a truly repentant soul. It is in His mercy that the Lord established the Sacrament of Confession through the Holy Catholic Church. It is here that we get to experience the anointment and love of a forgiving Father.

No matter how grave our sins are, they shall all be forgiven. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow” (Is 1:18). He waits for us with open arms and a smiling face – His heart beating with love for us.

Likewise, in the Holy Eucharist, we see Christ Himself and His love. All His love is contained in this Divine Mystery, in this piece of wheat and grape that was crushed, and grounded – like Christ was –before it became the bread of life and drink of salvation.

In the Eucharist, you can see how much God loves us. He not only gave up His life for us going through a very cruel and most painful process of dying, but He also left behind for us a treasure that is His body and blood. It is the body that was beaten down for us, and the blood that was shed for us. It is the heart that was pierced with a lance and the hands and feet that were pierced with nails for us.

“Behold I am with you unto the end of age”, He said (Mt 28:20), and He has kept His promise ever since, through this mystery of His death and our salvation handed down to generations through the Church.

It is the love of a Father that knows no end and the love of a Son who gave up Himself in His entirety that awaits us at the Eucharistic Table each day of our lives. He waits for us each day on His Holy Altar of love.

Come let us all treasure the great gift that the merciful Lord has left behind for us. Let’s also proclaim our love for Him through regular confessions and active participation in the Holy Mass as this Divine Mystery opens before our eyes.

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8)

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