Sunday, 11 March 2012

Cleaning out the temple?

I am a bit stuck in the past these days, and my mind is still with the Gospel of yesterday... It was the Gospel of the prodigal son, the story in which the youngest of two sons asks his inheritance from the Father and goes off to a foreign land, spends it all and eventually ends up with nothing and is at the risk of starving to death. Then he decided to go back to his father and to ask to be denounced as being his son, and life as one of the paid servants.

However on return, the father sees him coming in the distance, and goes out to him to welcome him back. He orders for the best robe to be brought to him to cloth his nakedness and a ring to be out of on his finger to give him back his dignity...

It is a very moving picture...
Inn the evening when the elder brother comes back however, he hears the sounds of the party and asks what is going on. On hearing the story he refuses to go in, and his father has to go come out to him to talk to him.

It shows the stark contrast between the judgement of God and the judgement of men, or at least of some. We can think of the fact that God is the just judge, and I think this story indicates exactly what this means. There is no pretence with God. God saw the youngest son coming back to him, having repented from his mistakes. He is humbled, ashamed, but God, represented by the Father, forgives him. He is even looking out for him, eagerly hoping for his return. The Father straight away takes away his nakedness before others, restores him to his dignity as his son.

The elder son however is slow to forgive, and this might betray the human way of thinking. But this way of thinking as betrayed in the elder son is very self centred, not loving and giving as with the father. It can easily be seen in the fact that when he says that the father never gave him as much as a kid to celebrate with HIS friends. He wasn't looking to celebrate with the family, but with his own...

Anyway, I think it is striking, and maybe in the light of our Gospel today something to think about in terms of cleaning out the temple of our own heart. What would our reaction be? Would we be quick to forgive? We are called to love as God loves, but how far are we off the mark?

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