|Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor|
Quote of the Week: “Spiritual life is like living water that springs up from the very depths of our own spiritual experience. In spiritual life, everyone has to drink from his or her own well.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
“There’s nothing wrong with me! I’m not the one at fault! I didn’t do anything wrong. Why are you picking on me?”
These could have been some of the phrases Jesus used in response to the Pharisees and scribes who, once again, were criticizing Jesus because “he ate with sinners.”
Note: He didn’t just tolerate them or accidentally bump into them and treat them civilly. No, he ate with them. He sought them out. He spent quality time with them.
On this particular occasion, when he was criticized again for this behavior, three wonderful parables come out of his heart and mouth about “the lost.”
Jesus didn’t defend himself. Jesus defended, lifted up, and rejoiced in the lost ones with never a mention of self. In the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin, he focused on the attitude of the one searching for the lost.
They set out aggressively searching and best of all, when they found what was lost, they rejoiced and called their neighbors in to rejoice with them. This was something that had to be shared because in the finding there was great joy.
But something more is happening in the parable of the prodigal son. One son was lost, realized it, then came back repentant and in need of forgiveness. The father rejoiced.
The son seeking forgiveness found unconditional and profound love. The other son, however, was lost and never even realized it. He was lost in anger, self-righteousness, rejection, jealousy. Blinded by all of this, he lost even his respectful love of his father.
But this father, true to character, also loved this lost son without condition. He didn’t condemn. He didn’t chastise. He didn’t compare. He simply sought out his son’s inner spirit of love and tried to lead him to a place of acceptance, forgiveness, and joy for the finding of one who was lost.
He gently led one lost son to wholeness and peace by teaching him how to accept another lost son. This father was clearly an image of God our Father, who always loves without condition.
How do we treat members of our own families whom we consider lost (they don’t go to church, they haven’t been to confession, they are “living in sin”)?
The lessons today are multiple — there are lots of ways to be lost, there are lots of ways to seek out the lost.
There are lots of ways to be found. There are lots of ways to be loved.
There is a lot of life offered through the ways of Jesus, through the ways of the Gospel.
Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email email@example.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.