Hope for all who long for reconciliation

I sometimes glance at a beautiful painting as I reach the top of my staircase.

The Very Rev Dermot McCaughan Parish Priest.

It is a replica of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son – and contains not only the heart of the story that God wants to tell me, but also the heart of the story I want to tell to God and God’s people.

All of the gospel is there. All of my life is there. The painting over the years has become a mysterious window through which I can step into the Kingdom of God.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is a story about the place within me where God has chosen to dwell.

It is the place when I am held safe in the embrace of an all loving Father who calls me by name and says “You are my beloved son, on you my favour rests.”

The painting quietly and solemnly reflects the immense love of a God who is Father as well as Mother.

The painting depicts the Father of the Prodigal Son welcoming him back home where he was to be treated again like his son – not like one of the slaves as the boy had requested.

The discontented son had pushed his priorities to the margins of life and sadly had lost touch with himself. A man who had been in a hurry to meet life, he was now aching to make his way back to his father. In a distant country he had been lost and desperate.

The son while walking home would have been entertaining doubts whether he would be truly welcome. Belief in total absolute forgiveness does not come readily. The other must forgo revenge and show some measure of charity. In feeling the warm embrace of his father his journey and welcome was now complete.

The very recollection of his father’s love and tenderness and kindness in the past had encouraged the son to return. It allowed him to have new hope and to come back again.

We ourselves can never assume that any deed of kindness is futile. When you do something out of the goodness of your heart without asking anything in return, you will be rewarded with that kindness as well. Certainly some remembered goodness in times with his father would have motivated the son to go back home!

The Father portrayed in this quiet drama represents the person of Jesus – a God faithful to his Fatherhood who daily reaches out in welcome and in generosity to each and every one of us.

If the son had let go of the father, the father certainly had never let go of the son! We can genuinely ask ourselves – how often did the eyes of the father scan the horizon hoping to get a distant glimpse of his beloved son. How wonderful it is to reflect that God wants to find me as much as I want to reach God. “This son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found”.

The parable of the Lost Son is a parable for today. It offers hope for all who long for reconciliation. Whether it be with a child, a parent or a friend from the past this story points to hope. It teaches that whenever “hope is deferred and the heart is sick there is the promise that hope will blossom into a tree of life - Book of Proverbs.“