Our Father, Father’s Day, and Parable of the Father’s Love

Today’s devotion is from Chris Cairo:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

How easily we say these words, sometimes without even thinking about what we are saying, about what the words mean to us. The Lord’s Prayer becomes rote memorization and blind (spiritual) repetition.

Father and son at lakeGod as our Father (let’s side aside any discussion of God’s gender for a moment): what does that mean to you?

There are many stories in the bible, both Old and New Testament, that give us insights into God’s character. One such story is found in Luke 15: the story we call “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.

In a book of the same name by Henri Nouwen, Nouwen suggests that this story could/should be called “Parable of the Father’s Love”. This parable in Luke is told by Jesus after He hears the Pharisees complain that Jesus associates with sinners.

The story has three main characters (the Father and his two sons) and seemingly spends more time on the exploits of the younger son, who goes off and squanders the inheritance his father has given him. It is hard to miss the point that the Father (God) is filled with compassion and joy when the son returns, and holds no grudges: he forgives and accepts. End of lesson, right?

But then there is the older brother who resents that the Father treats the prodigal son so well when he returns. “He is not deserving!” (Or at least not as deserving as me!)

How many of us have moments of jealousy when attention or praise is given to one of our (less deserving in our eyes) siblings by our Father? Or a classmate by the teacher? Or coworker, by our boss? Or when a friend gets complemented on what they are wearing and not us?

I am guilty of this. Sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous, as the world is always comparing us, evaluating us, grading us. Constant competition.

But not God.640px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project

In the story the Father runs out to greet the prodigal son as he is returning home. But the Father also goes out to the older son, to bring him into the celebration in the house.

Jesus’s point with the story, seems to be that not only does God love sinners, but that God loves all of us, equally. The Fathers love is not given in measure to our goodness or success. Thank God! (No pun intended) You do not have to have better grades than your brother or sister. You do not need to be the best athlete in the family. Or the smartest…There is no comparing.

Your Father simply loves you.

And so it is “on earth as it is in heaven”.

In the famous painting by Rembrandt of this parable, he shows the son kneeling, and comforted, in the warm embrace of the Father. The light in the painting symbolizing the fathers love. The father reaches out to give love, and equally important, the son has returned and learned to accept the fathers love.

I hope you each can bask in the love of your Father on Father’s Day, whether he is with you or not. That’s all He wants.

 

Easter member Chris Cairo wrote the above reflection as part of his special ministry to college students and others, in which he writes to them on a monthly basis to encourage their faith to thrive in their daily lives.

 

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