This week we hear the story of the Prodigal Son. It is a story we are all familiar with and shows the great mercy of God and the importance of forgiveness. Sometimes forgotten is the reason Jesus told this parable. The scribes and Pharisees were complaining because Jesus was associating with and eating with tax collectors and sinners. This is a story not only about forgiveness, but also about who we forgive and associate with. One might say from the parable, it is easy to forgive your son – after all, he was the man’s own flesh and blood. The bigger takeaway from the point Jesus is making may be that we forgive even the ‘tax collectors’ and ‘sinners’. You see, we are all brothers and sisters in the human family and we are all sinners. We must forgive those who are not like us, and welcome them, even invite them into relationship with Christ. In fact, forgiveness of those who are different, and extending Christian friendship to them should be celebrated.
As Vincentians, we are called to minister to the poor, the vulnerable and all those in need. Many of them have made mistakes. Our forgiveness of them and acceptance of them may be the hope they need to recover and move forward. When we give them the gifts of mercy, forgiveness, understanding and kindness, they will give us the gift of humility and gratitude in return. Those are gifts we should pay attention to that we might grow in them as we strive to grow in holiness. Do I welcome relationship with those who I minister to, not only providing help, but providing Christian friendship, forgiveness, and acceptance? Do I celebrate with them in the victories over challenges in life? Do I seek to learn from their humility and gratitude?
Lord Jesus, give me the courage to not only offer help through ministry, but to also offer friendship, encouragement and understanding. Allow me to set me judgements aside and to extend an attitude of forgiveness and understanding. Help me to see the humility and gratitude in those I minister to, that I may extend that same attitude to you. I pray all of this in your name! Amen