2019 Lenten Reflections - 4th Sunday of Lent
The Gospel reading for this 4th Sunday of Lent, the parable of the prodigal son, is likely familiar.
A son leaves home, squanders his inheritance, and returns in shame to the unexpected and infinitely gracious embrace of his father. Against the protests of his loyal son who’s worked at his side all the years his younger brother was partying, the father plans a lavish feast to welcome his lost son home.
When I read this parable, I immediately see myself as a prodigal daughter, a sinner in need of the embrace of a loving father who keeps no record of wrongs and welcomes me with open arms.
But, in an even deeper way that’s harder to admit, I am also the older brother, whose main concern is everyone getting what they deserve. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being the gatekeepers of grace for others. It feels so right and natural to talk about fairness when we’re applying judgment to others, especially to those whose sins we’ve decided are greater than our own.
Our desire to make sure someone else doesn’t get what they didn’t earn plays out in our workplaces, our homes, and in our politics. Grace is in short supply for anyone we think doesn’t “deserve” it.
Thankfully, God’s Kingdom doesn’t work on our logic. What if we truly lived out the Gospel’s message of extravagant grace in our own lives, with that annoying coworker, stubborn spouse, or desperate refugee family? What if we stopped thinking about what was “fair” and instead remembered that we are prodigal daughters and sons saved by grace which we could never earn?
In this season of Lent, let us remember that in the same way that we are recipients of extravagant grace, we are called to also be the hands and feet of Jesus in expressing that grace to a world that hungers for it.