Wednesday, September 11, 2019, was the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Remembering this horrific day elicits strong emotions, such as sadness, grief and anger. Continuing acts of terror throughout the world push us still further down the road of emotional turmoil, with feelings that may even border on hate and the desire for revenge. The inundation of negative emotions can feel like it is altogether too much to bear. So what are we to do? As disciples of Jesus, sometimes we are called to do something other than how we feel. Even though we may feel like getting revenge for these heinous acts, revenge is not an option for a disciple of Jesus. Our challenge in the midst of this violent world is to be people of reconciliation and healing.
The story of the Prodigal Son is a vivid illustration of our call to be reconcilers and healers (Luke 15:1-32). In the story, the son who hurt his father by squandering his inheritance on a sordid lifestyle, changed his mind and asked for a second chance. The father welcomed him back, not wanting to continue a cycle of hurt. The other son could not understand why his father did not want to continue that cycle. He even challenged his father’s reconciliatory action, suggesting that if anyone should be rewarded it was him for being faithful to his father all his life. The father simply wanted his son to trust in his own goodness as much has he did.
Like the first son, what are some damaging behaviors that it is time to let go of? Where might we need to ask for a second chance? Like the forgiving father, what might be a cycle of hurt that it is time to end? Like the other son, how might we be thinking of ourselves as better than someone else, blinding ourselves to areas where we need to grow? Where might we need to believe and trust again in our own goodness?
On his way home, when the older brother got closer to the house, he heard the sounds of music and dancing. What he heard were the sounds of reconciliation and healing. How great if the world could hear sounds of reconciliation and healing coming from our homes and churches because we know that sometimes we are called to do something different than how we feel.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector