Luke 15:25-32 NRSV

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ’Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The Bible never fails to surprise and enchant me! This one simple paragraph from the book of Luke presents so many lessons relating to our lives with each other and with God. I have a son and two daughters, all grown up now, but I haven’t forgotten the rivalry that cropped up between them once in a while as they were growing up and even, at times, as adults.

I had one brother who was seven years older than me. As a kid sister, in my child’s eyes, I constantly saw my brother being favored over me. I know I loved my children equally, and yet their senses were keen as to who they perceived to be the favored child. How do we treat each other when we think another unfairly ran ahead of us in wealth, stature, fame, or looks?

God, as my perfect father and mother, loves me no matter my faults, just as this fellow in Luke’s story loved his wayward son. Haven’t we all done things we wish we could go back and “do over?” Don’t we look to each other for forgiveness that sometimes is too late in coming? Luke tells us in this one paragraph about God’s ready, unfailing and generous forgiveness. God’s grace allows us to “come home,” without shame.

Jesus with nails through his hands and feet, dying on the cross, looked left and right, forgiving the men dying next to him and also the ones who pounded the nails. Did these men deserve forgiveness? Did Jesus deserve punishment?

I have trouble forgiving myself when I know I’ve done something wrong. Sometimes I have trouble forgiving a person I think has wronged me. I have only to look to the example Jesus gave, when in such agony as death on the cross, to know what’s expected of me. Can I forgive on my own? I’m not so sure I can do anything at all without God’s indwelling presence lifting me beyond my human capacity to extend grace.

Did the older brother go in and celebrate his brother’s return? I like Luke’s story much better when I imagine the brothers embracing each other in the presence of their father.

Prayer:Thank you, God for sending your son to show me the way. Jesus, remind me to look to your example when I find myself in need of expressing forgiveness and extending grace. Without you, Lord, I am nothing. With you leading me, Lord, I am so much more. It’s only by your grace I live. Amen.

Cheryl Del Monte
“Take a chance, amaze yourself”

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