Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful, slow in anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
Loving God, as we make our Lenten journey to new life, remain with us and guide us in the days ahead. Help us to recognize and accept your constant care for us in the deserts of our lives.
We make this our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection on Returning
Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak
I have been meditating on the Story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32). It is a story about returning.
For the son, returning to the father was a necessity for staying alive. He realized that he had sinned, but this realization came about because sin brought him close to death. The father didn’t require any further motivation. His love was so total and unconditional that he simply welcomed his son home.
This is a very encouraging thought. God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back. Even if we return because being a Christian brings us more peace than being a pagan, God will receive us. Even if we return because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us.
God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home.
So why delay? God is standing there with open arms, waiting to embrace me. He won’t ask any questions about my past. Just having you back is all he desires.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame will not consume you…Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43: 1-2,4)
Thought for Reflection
If God can respond to me in such love and forgiveness, how can I respond to those whom I encounter?