Posted by: mmreflections | January 10, 2008

Coming Home: January, 2008

Jesus teaches us a great lesson about coming home in the story of the Lost Son who left his father’s house, taking with him his inheritance, and wasting all he had on fulfilling his desires and his need for excitement which he hoped would bring him happiness.  When he exhausted all he had and found himself far from home, impoverished, destitute, lonely, and disappointed in his failure to fulfill the longings of his heart, he began to yearn for home.  He remembered all the good things he once had, he remembered how well the servants in his father’s home were treated, and he recognized his own miserable existence.  He finally came to his senses and decided to head for home.  He would return to his father’s house, acknowledge his mistakes, and ask only for a place among the servants.  He felt he no longer deserved to be called a son.  Some distance away from home he was surprised to meet his father who was looking and longing for his son’s safe return.  As he was about to present his well planned and rehearsed script to his father, he was silenced by the joy and excitement with which his father greeted him.  Servants were summoned to bring a clean robe for his son, sandals for his feet, a ring for his finger and to prepare a fatted calf for a celebration.

 In reflecting upon my own life and in listening to so many people over the years it becomes more apparent that there is a deep longing in our hearts which never seems to be quite fulfilled.  Again and again we have tried to satisfy this longing in our own way, thinking that some new toy, or some person, or some successful plan might do the trick, only to be disappointed once again.   There is certainly nothing inappropriate in seeking for happiness and peace; the question is how, why and where we are seeking for it.   Like the son in the story many of us turn away from what is good, proper and just in our search and end up more lonely and empty than we were in the first place.  The only place we can truly find the peace, love and happiness for which our hearts long is at home in a personal relationship with God as we understand God.  For many who have not been raised in a particular religious tradition understanding of God is described as a Higher Power.  In the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom we pray, “For you are God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing, yet ever the same, you and your only-begotten Son and your Holy Spirit.  You brought us out of nonexistence into being, and again raised us up when we had fallen, and left nothing undone…”

 The lost son had a misconception of his father.  He thought his father might reject him after all the wrongdoing and mistakes he had made.  It was with fear and apprehension that he began the long journey home.  Many of us have not been able to enter into a strong and serious personal relationship with the Holy One because of our faulty perception or understanding of God.  We cling to the false perceptions of God in spite of all that Jesus has taught us about his loving Father.  This is what the story of the lost son is all about.  Many of us have a fear of truly turning back and putting our lives in the care of God as someone we can trust.

 If our lives are heavy with fear, anxiety, worry, shame, guilt, boredom, frustration, anger, resentment, or a refusal to forgive those who have wounded us by their actions or words, it might be a good time for us to consider what is happening in our spiritual life.  We all have a spiritual life, whether we admit it or not.  However, we need to look at the fruits of this life.  By the fruits of our spiritual life we shall know whether or not there is something better awaiting us.  We are all sons and daughters of God but are we living as God’s children?  We shall know the children of God by the fruits of their spiritual lives such as peace, love, joy, understanding, compassion, kindness, justice and serenity.   It is important not to pass a harsh judgment on ourselves but, more importantly, to wake up and be aware of what is happening in our lives.  We need to accept where we are and to realize that the journey begins or continues from where we are in this present moment.  I believe God accepts us just as we are and begins the necessary transformation in us just as soon as we allow him to do what is needed.

 A good starting place for us on our journey to a renewed and deeper personal relationship with God might be to reflect on our perceptions and understanding of the Holy One.  Out of fear many of us have held on to the notions passed on to us from our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and churches.  We were never taught to question their beliefs.  Just as each of us is a unique person so each of our spiritual journeys is unique.  If our journey is a healthy one, our perceptions of God will be ever changing and our understanding will continue to grow as the situations of life confront us.  The images of our childhood will have changed.  We will learn to listen to our own hearts and to trust the inner voice of the Holy Spirit prompting us to grow spiritually and to be true to ourselves.

 If we are longing for a deeper and more meaningful spiritual life, we need to recognize this longing as an invitation from God to come home and to live our lives in keeping with his will as it is made known to us.  In our next reflection we will consider how our perceptions of God came about and how they might have already changed as our spiritual journeys have unfolded.  Many who have been lost and have made many serious mistakes on their life journey returned home to find a welcoming Father far different than what they expected to find on their journey home.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.  Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.  Your souls will find rest for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”(Matthew 11:28-30)

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Responses

  1. Thank you for opening up this site. I am looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.


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