Scripture: Luke 15: 11-33
The tax collectors and the sinners were all gathering around Jesus to listen to his teaching, at which the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, “This one welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus addressed this parable to them: “A man had two children. The younger of them said to their father: “Give me a share of the estate that is coming to me.” So the father divided up the property. Some days later, the younger child gathered up his belongings and went off to a distant land.
Here he squandered all the money and inheritance on loose living. After everything was spent, a great famine broke over the land, and everyone including the younger child was in great need. So he went to a landowner, who sent him to a farm to take care of the pigs. He longed to eat the husks that were fodder for the pigs, but no one made a move to give him anything. Finally coming to his senses, he said: “How many hired hands at my father’s house have more than enough to eat, while here I am starving! I will break away and return home, and say, ‘I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve to be called one of your children. Treat me like one of your hired hands.’”
With that, the younger child set off for home. While still a long way off, the father caught sight of the returning child and was deeply moved. The father ran out to meet him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. The younger child said “Father, I have sinned against God and against you; I no longer deserve
to be called one of your children.” The father said to one of the workers: “Quick, bring out the finest robe and put it on my son; put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Take the fatted calf and kill it. Let us celebrate because this child of mine was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and now is found.
Then the celebration began. Meanwhile the elder child was out on the land. Nearing the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the workers and asked: “What is the reason for this dancing and music?”
The worker answered, “Your brother is home, and the fatted calf has been killed because your father has him back in good health.” The older one grew angry at this and would not go in, but his father came out and began to plead with him. He said in reply: “For years now I have slaved for you. I never disobeyed one of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends. Then, when this other one returns after having gone through your property with prostitutes, you kill the fatted calf for him. The father answered: “My loved one, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice. This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life. He was lost, and now is found.”
The Rule of Benedict 4. 20-31,41 The Tools for Good Works
Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love. Speak the truth with heart and tongue. Do not repay one bad turn with another. Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently. Love your enemies. If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead. Endure persecution for the sake of justice. Place your hope in God alone.
“Stop the wars within yourself. Whatever happens to the heart is the beginning of a revolution.”
(Joan Chittister, OSB)
The violence we all experience today in society calls to us to open our hearts in new ways, to meet the stranger as friend, to be gentle with ourselves, the other, the earth. Peace- the fruit of non-violence- comes as we learn to come home to ourselves, one another, and God. Forgiveness, acceptance and reconciliation nurture hospitality-the receiving of all who come into our lives as receiving the Christ.
How we make space for the other – be it a person, a new way of thinking or seeing or understanding,-could change our world, making it a world of potential friends rather than a world of probable enemies. Feasting on hospitality, tending to mending relationships, can turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.
For your Reflection:
1. To whom do you relate in the Scripture story: the runaway son, the returning son, the father, the elder brother? What might that be telling you about the relationships that need tending in your life?
2. Which “tools of good works” most challenge you right now? What might they be saying to you about the relationships that need tending in your life?
3. In what ways does violence play out in your life? In what ways do you do violence to yourself, to those you care about, to those you are called to serve, to those you might not even know?
4. What role does “hospitality” play in living a non-violent life? How can I nurture a “hospitable heart”?
What do you want to say to God about all this?
Mend a broken relationship.
Copyright © 2018 by Kathleen McNany, OSB
Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore, MD.