My Sweetie and I ended up going to Sunday Mass twice this weekend. It was my ask, and there were reasons. There were two options for reading the Gospel, the longer form includes the story of the Prodigal son. We all relate to these words of Jesus deeply whether we’re the kid who takes off and does whatever for years and returns home and is welcomed with open arms, or we’re the kid who stays home, following all the rules ending up squandering his life in a different way, or we’re the parent loving, waiting, longing for both of these kids to live well.
Luke 5 (long form feel free to scroll down)
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
Then he said,
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns,
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
Fr. Jake (not his real name) shared the tale of one of his friends, Pete (not his real name) kids, Layla (not her real name) who clearly has a mind of her own, living life as she sees fit. One afternoon Pete and Layla were home by them selves as Mom and Baby were out running errands. Layla is off doing her thing in her room, Pete is reading in the living room. Layla calls from the top of the stairs, “Papa! Papa!” Pete goes running over arriving as Layla finishes the sentence, “Catch me!” And with that while Pete is still at the bottom Layla takes a flying leap. Pete somehow manages to run up the stairs and catch his trusting, giggling kid. As Fr. Jake related this harrowing tale of Layla’s flying leap memory washed over me of Timothy (his real name) jumping into my arms from the top step (not far) when I asked him to jump.
Later when our volunteer group were talking about our day I shared this story relating it to trust. One of the other women in the group said, “he just thought it was fun” kind of dismissing it. The other day as I imagined Timothy jumping into my arms, big grin on his face and I heard this woman’s comment I had something of a different thought. Taking a flying leap into God’s arms is supposed to be fun, something of an adrenaline rush, where we get to Trust that Papa is going to catch us and we get to fly into His waiting arms. What if our vocation, call, way of life is the freedom to leap. What if our faith is supposed to be fun. Jesus first public miracle, the turning of water into the really good wine infuses life into a party that was just about to be ruined.
God brought other memories to me over the last few days as I continued to reflect on this Gospel. When I was a little kids I’d go to the playgrounds, swing and sing Karen Carpenter songs. If you know me I don’t sing on key very often, I love to sing and do it anyway. Then taking the flying leap to go into volunteer service after going to college didn’t work out.
One of the most freeing experiences as a quilter was standing in front of one of my quilts at a show one woman loved it enough to share with her friend who said, “that’s nice, did you see this?” moving on. Why was it freeing? Because in that moment I was able to let go of the desire for everyone to love what I do. This goal was no longer necessary as not everyone will.
When I think about my life, particularly my life with my Sweetie I see how we’ve together made flying leaps. We’ve Trusted God together, particularly in difficult moments. Like when we were told that we were moving from one assignment to the next, there was at first, a pang of hurt, but then it was okay God wants/needs us here. We moved, we trusted. Being settled in one place (and needing to be here) has built up layers that I’ve been fearful of giving up. They’ve become mine, instead of Gods. Oh how I long to take that flying leap. And in one sense I did in finishing that book.
But there’s another leap.
I do know the next running step in that leap…so here goes!