A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Identity: Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son #5

2.2 The Father: The Kind of Love that Swallows Pride (Luke 15:11-32)

"I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so." There can be a subtle joy in discovering that our unheeded warnings to people have indeed reaped the consequences we foresaw. In comes our now wounded individual, and even though we feel for her, there is a pride hidden beneath our concern. If she had just listened to us, she would not be in the mess she is in. We are pleased to know that our wisdom has prevailed, even in difficult circumstances.

When the younger son finally came to his senses in the pig sty, he knew that the only thing he could do was to return home. He had publicly humiliated his father and disgraced the family name. There was to be no restoration as a son; he could and would apologize, but there would be no forgiveness. He would simply return home, fall at his father's feet and ask for a job as one of the hired hands; if he received that, it was more grace than he deserved.

As he approached the land of his youth, his father saw him from a distance. His son was returning home. If there was ever an "I told you so" moment, this was definitely it. As a hard-working, God-fearing man, no doubt the father was proud. He was not conerned what people thought of him, but as with people who try to live righteously, he cared that people respected them. In spite of that pride, the father, in his love for his son, thinks nothing of that. When he sees his son still far off down the road, he does something that no elderly man with any self-respect would do in that time and place. He picks up his outer garment from around his feet, and he runs to meet his son. If anyone should be running to beg for mercy, it should be the young man; but the father throws caution to the wind and his pride in order to embrace his wayward son who has now returned home.

This is the kind of love that swallows pride. It is not easy for most of us to do such a thing. When we have been offended, when we have been slapped in the face, both literally and figuratively, and when someone has wronged us in an extreme way, the last thing we think about doing when they approach us in order "to eat crow," is to embrace him or her in joy; and even if we offer our welcome, the temptation to say, "I told you so," is great.

God has every right to say to each and every one of us, "I told you so." Yet, when we return to him in repentance, ready to throw ourselves at his mercy, hoping to receive at least some undeserved grace, we discover that he is there to wrap his arms around us, forgive us, and bring us to his home, once again, as daughters and sons; and never once will he remind us of our past failings-- never once will he say, "I told you so."

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