We sin. We cause harm to ourselves and others. We damage relationships with our deceit, pettiness, pride, disregard and violence. Some of us stray farther from the path and cause more harm than others, but none of us is beyond sin. Our sin is both personal and social. We may lie to a loved one to protect ourselves from confrontation or shame. We may exploit the resources of God’s creation and damage the environment with the choices we make for convenience or cost. We may enjoy the benefits of systems that were built to favor people of one social identity over another, while not working to resist to those systems. These behaviors cause pain, poverty and injustice. They distance us from one another and from God.
The Good News in today’s readings is that there is hope in the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God. No matter how far we’ve strayed, no matter the damage we have done, God awaits our return with open arms like the father in today’s Gospel.
To the son who has obeyed and served his father the celebration for his brother seems unfair. This illustrates one of the most challenging aspects of our faith. The fact that God loves those who have done the most harm as much as he loves any of us. Though our sins may not be “equal”, God’s mercy is abundant and available to each of us. However, no matter what we have done or failed to do, it is up to us to understand the ways in which we have fallen short and act to make things right.
Lent offers a focused time and space to reflect upon the damage we have caused. It is an invitation to work to repair that which we have broken, to deepen relationships, and draw ourselves closer to God. God is kind and merciful and desires this closeness so that we can be co-creators of the “kin-dom” of peace, love, justice, and joy.