“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons.” (Luke 15:7)
Jesus told three parables to explain why he spent so much time with tax collectors and prostitutes. In St. Luke, the parables appear in this order: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Three stories to illustrate the Heavenly Father’s deep love for lost sinners. In fact, St. Peter explains it this way, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I often think of that father in the prodigal son parable. How many days did he look to the horizon waiting for his son to come home? Worrying about him and wondering where he could be and if he was alive. He must have be vigilant about watching for a sign of his return because Jesus states, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him….” I think about him as I wait and watch for signs that my own children will return to Jesus, “the source and perfecter of our faith,” thankful that God is patient and that it isn’t his will that any will perish.
I have four children, all in various stages of faithless living. How many mothers suffer as I do, continuously praying for their children, who clearly had the word of God planted in their hearts from infancy. Experiencing grief and disappointment as they appear to harden their hearts and ignore the blessings and saving grace God provides for them. All the time witching the secular world reinforce their beliefs. A world which has come to acknowledge “God” as just a being, with little mention of Jesus Christ, except as a curse word. This would be seriously depressing if I didn’t know that my heavenly father is in charge and in spite of cold, stubborn hardened hearts, he is patient and uses the Holy Spirit to call my children in ways I don’t always see or understand.
Once again, I give my trust to him, believing in his promises. Jesus doesn’t describe the heartbreak the father endures as he waits and wonders, but he clearly and explicitly describes his joy when the son returns. Whether I am still on earth or in heaven, I look forward to rejoicing with others when my children are finally found.
“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:32)