Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

The prodigal son! I love the reading for the gospel today. This is the story from the gospel of Luke where the younger son requests his portion of the inheritance from his father. He proceeds to leave and “squander his inheritance on a life of dissipation.” He eventually “comes to his senses” and realizes he would be treated better has a hired servant in his fathers household so he humbly returns, asking forgiveness. The father, “filled with compassion” prepares a welcome feast but the older son is resentful because he is jealous that the younger son receives such lavish attention while he, has been faithful. The father’s message is clear: “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

We don’t know the end of this story but I think there is something for all of us in this reading. We may be the parent, unconditionally welcoming back a child; we may be the older child or sibling who is left feeling resentful or we may be the returning prodigal one, full of shame and gratitude. I can see myself in all three of these profiles!

In the reading of the daily office in the Liturgy of the Hours today, there is a beautiful writing from the treatise on “Flight from the World”by Saint Ambrose. The opening paragraph reads:

“Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also. God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one. Since he is good, and especially to those who are faithful to him, let us hold fast to him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy his light and see his glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy. Let us reach out with our hearts to posses that good, let us exist in it and live in it, let us hold fast to it, that good which is beyond all we can know or see and is marketed by perpetual peace and tranquility, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.”

This makes me think about the prodigal son. His heart was initially with his possessions and living his “life of dissipation” and like Saint Ambrose describes, the father in the gospel gives the gift the prodigal son requests. Thankfully, the son is given the opportunity to “come to his senses” and return to his fathers household.

What does it mean to hold fast to God with all our soul, our heart, our strength—and to enjoy God’s light and experience the grace of supernatural joy? How do we reach out, exist and live in it—and hold fast to it—knowing it is beyond what we can know and see?

Like the prodigal son, I think many of us have to go out—whatever that may look like—and circle back around; sometimes we end up driving around for a long time before we are able—or willing—to let go and hold fast to God. Our culture encourages us to be strong, independent and to go in search of our worldly treasures but in my experience, this is often a lonely and exhausting search. I have been bloody and bruised in my attempts to hold fast to my own ways but more than anything else, it is exhausting!

Saint Ambrose writes that when we hold fast to God, “that good which is beyond all we can know or see,” we will then know “perpetual peace and tranquility, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.” I am sure the prodigal son had some good times but I imagine the peace he felt that first night back at home, sleeping in a warm bed with a full stomach, was much more satisfying.

May we have the courage to risk “holding fast to God” and give ourselves the opportunity to experience this promise of peace and tranquility. Maybe a better statement is to give God the opportunity to provide US with peace and tranquility. But we have to be willing to go home and let go.

Blissfully, Susan

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Hilda wrote:
Dear Susan,

Though limited by my hummanness, by "holding fast to God" I find an inner peace and strength I can´t describe. Thanks for helping us go ahead in our spiritual path.

Blessings to you and Bill,

Hilda

Sat, March 26, 2011 @ 11:45

2. Hilda wrote:
I meant humanness...

Sat, March 26, 2011 @ 11:45

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def. Bliss: -noun Supreme Happiness, Utter Joy/Contentment; the Joy of Paradise!