Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Meditation XXIV -- Facts
it [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
In the well-known parable, the prodigal son returns home to his father after throwing away his inheritance and coming to the realization not only that his wasted life has brought him to ruin, but also that his father's servants are fed better than he is. He makes up his mind to go home, and prepares a speech of repentance. The father, upon seeing his son, throws his arms around the profligate and kisses him. Then he orders a feast to be prepared and they celebrate.
But the older son, the one who had been good, obedient -- righteous, if you will -- was resentful. We are told "he was angry and refused to go in" when his father encouraged him to join the party. Perhaps the "good" son has a point. What sense does it make to celebrate an adult who acts irresponsibly, who worries the father and throws away what everyone else seems to have worked for so he can live in debauchery. Those are the facts, and the older brother cannot see past them to the truth.
We might note that Jesus tells his parable in response to the charge that He "receives sinners and eats with them." He had already told the Pharisees and scribes "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Does God then ignore the righteous, those who do good? No. Remember the father says, "all that is mine yours." The father does not say the son who abandoned him, who insisted on his own way and has reaped the fruit of his sin, has done right. The father does not accept the wrong. But he is happy to have his child (and what parent doesn't see the child in the adult?) back safely: "for this your brother was dead, and is alive."
There are facts and there is truth, and we should not confuse the two. The good son could only see the wrong, and not the repentant sinner. And how can we share the good news of Jesus if we only see sin and evil, but not the greater truth of what was done to reconcile all of us with the Father?
Lord, whether we sin or live in Your grace, You are with us and Your Love never fails. It is stronger than the riches You bestow on us or the blessings we think we earn. Make us mindful of your mercy and help us to celebrate every face that turns to You. Amen in Christ.