Last night as the group of women I meet with met we read a short reflection on the “prodigality” of God. This comes from the story of the prodigal son but the author spoke of how the father in the story is the real prodigal. He welcomes back this son who has come from the pig sties – likely smelling like it too – with open arms – which may mean a huge embrace for this smelly son. The father lavishes love and acceptance on this son who messed up so badly, welcomes him back with a huge party, even using some of the resources that would rightfully now be part of the older son’s inheritance. (No wonder the older brother is a bit miffed)
To the author “prodigality” = lavishness, giving excessive gifts, abundance that is given to un-meriting children.
She also reminds us of the story Jesus told in Matthew 20 of the workers in the vineyard. He tells the story of the owner of the vineyard who pays all his workers as if they worked a full day and when they protest he says, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
The story Dixie tells over at her blog of receiving a gift – out of the blue – that cheers her day reminded me of the reading from last night. It reminded me of the daily gifts that God lavishes on us that have little to do with their utility and certainly are not given because we merit them: the vivid colours of the sky at dawn and at sunset, the joy that music stirs in us, as do sounds of nature (the call of the geese at this time of year remind me of coming spring), the myriad shades of green and brown with splashes of color thrown in, the varieties of species.
We were reminded last night of our need to follow God’s example in this regard. Jesus lavished love on outcasts, prostitutes and sinners, sacrificing all to offer them a way to freedom. We need to be willing to risk falling prey to the occasional con artist in our attempts to care for people in need. We need to learn to love with the kind of abandon with which the Father loves.
O God, forgive us our miserliness when it comes to caring for others. Give us generous hearts, non-judgmental minds and open hands.