Moments

The generous father

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The story is told about a little boy who sobbed all the way home in the back of the car after the christening of his baby brother in church. Three times his father asked him what was wrong. Finally the boy said: “The priest kept saying that he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home.” “So, what’s the problem?” the father asked. “But I want to stay with you guys!” the boy cried.

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 15, 1-3.11-32), we hear the story of a father who had two sons. The older one was a good son who stayed and served his father. The younger one was selfish; he left his father and squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation in a distant country. Two children, from the same home, going in different directions. Such is the reality in every home. From the very same soil can grow fruits of different kinds.

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The younger son was prodigal in a negative way because he wasted himself and all that he  had in sinning. But if we take a closer look at the father, he, too, was prodigal, but in a positive way because he was profuse and generous in his loving and forgiveness. Like father, like son, in a different way, of a different kind.

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To all parents who try so hard to raise good children, take courage in the thought that you have done and are doing your very best. To God you just leave the rest. No matter what or who the children will turn out to be, keep the mind and the spirit of the loving Father, and you will have no regrets.  When it comes to loving, nobody can or should be faulted for loving much, and loving more.

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The father never stopped loving his prodigal son and he never stopped hoping and believing in the latter’s goodness. Parents—and educators, for that matter—should never stop believing in the child, and should never stop believing that goodness begets goodness, and that love begets love, no matter how delayed or minimal it may seem.

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What is love? Well, the prodigal son teaches us what love is not. The first element of love is respect, and the prodigal son disrespected his father when he demanded his inheritance. The second element of love is trust, and the prodigal son showed his distrust for his father’s goodness when, again, he made sure that he got ahead what he believed belonged to him. (Segurista!) The third element of love is gratitude. Who can be more ungrateful than a son who gets his father’s wealth, leaves his father behind, and lives a carefree life with no thought of his father’s condition and well-being!

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What is love? The loving father shows us in a very moving way what love is. He showed respect for his son when he welcomed him back with much love and compassion and ordered his servants to respect and serve his son who has returned. He showed trust in his long-lost son when he embraced him, with no questions asked on how his son had wasted his life. And he showed gratitude when he gave a thanksgiving feast because his son came home alive.

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If you want to find out if your loving or your relationship is true, check if you have respect, trust and gratitude. Husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, whoever, when respect, trust and gratitude are lacking or gone, something really needs repairing or overhauling. Please say to each other more often, in more ways than one: “I respect you. I trust you. I am grateful to you!”

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As we come closer to the Holy Week, let us continue our Lenten discipline of almsgiving, fasting, and prayers, and let us take courage that our God, our loving generous Father, is a God who sees our efforts and not our faults, who sees our goodness and not our weakness.

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For those who do not leave or who think they are always at the Father’s side, please be careful of self-righteousness and/or spiritual pride. Let us never lose sight of or belittle the power of grace in our lives. Sinners or saints, we all must anchor our lives on God’s grace, mercy, and love.

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Speaking of generosity, a good friend of mine, Bert Sarabia, has a very simple reminder for those who want to share their blessings. Aside from making donations to charity, he makes sure that his employees are given their fair share. And whenever he buys from small vendors, he does not bargain anymore. What is a few pesos “given away” to little people who are trying to survive and make a living? Indeed.

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For those of us who go through trials of any sort, think about this: “We are tested by impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticisms, broken promises, and even senseless tragedies, but God wants us to overcome the tests of life, so He never allows the tests we face to be greater than the grace He gives.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to become generous like You in my ways of loving and forgiving. Amen.

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