Reflection on the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 32 1 Timothy 1 Luke 15
This morning’s Gospel tells the story of our confusions about enough. Enough trouble, enough loss, enough yearning, enough resentment. And enough love to embrace all those losses, yearnings, resentments. Love enough to celebrate return without recrimination and love enough to forgive resentment without condemnation.
We’ve all lived each of the characters in this parable. In our adult lives as teachers, family members and friends, we’ve been like the father in the story. We’ve watched someone we love go away, push us away, and struggle to come back; and we have been challenged to be loving throughout, unconditionally, unwaveringly loving.
We’ve been like the younger son, yearning for more. Throwing our hearts over the horizon, yearning to experience more broadly, yearning for excitement. And all too often, not always, but all too often, when we reach what we yearn for, we find that it isn’t enough. Indeed, it seems to turn on us: to the extent that we threw our hearts at it and thought it would be plenty, to that extent we are more deeply disappointed.
I don’t know about you but even today, I’ll look forward eagerly to something, big or small, even something I may have wanted for a long time, only to find that it’s not enough. Either it isn’t what I thought, or it doesn’t fully satisfy, or it’s over all too soon. It’s not enough.
We’ve been like the older son, too. He has everything, as his father gently reminds him; but it’s not enough because his younger brother is getting something without working for it. The older brother is resentful, and it is doubtful whether he will be able to admit to the resentment that eats at him. The older son just doesn’t get that he has enough.
I believe that we, like the older son, are vulnerable to a deep unease, a disease of throwing our hearts after what others have. It’s a disease that can destroy our ability to live in love. To be satisfied with our lot in life, to let our hearts be at rest in our own present moment, demands a daily discipline.
The father says, “Enough! Enough, my young son, of your wanderings and misplaced yearnings; enough of your sorrow and your regrets. Leave it all behind you; just know that you are home in my love.” To his older son he says, “Enough of your complaining and bitterness. Enough of resentment. Let go of your anger. I embrace both of you, my sons, without judgment; there is no need for shame and embarrassment. Know now that you are home in my love and that there is enough for each of you. Let your hearts believe, and it will be enough.”
Like the sons in the parable, we have thrown our hearts away on what has not satisfied us. This morning we come together, sisters and brothers, children of one whose love is without equal. Let us relax in the embrace of our God who, like the father in the parable, loves us without judgment. We may be deeply embarrassed by our over-eager yearnings and our petty resentments and our stumbling to understand, but our loving God does understand and loves us. So, like a loving father to us, Our God forgives us our resentments, forgives us our misguided yearnings and loves us, not despite the way we are, but loves us with and through it all. God calls us to be and to do much. And, to meet this call, God gives us all we need, replenishing what we waste, saying to us, “Let this be enough for you; be at home (in) my love.”