When We are Lost, God Is Our Refuge
By: Elias Bejjani*
The Lost (prodigal) Son's parable is a road map for repentance and forgiveness. It shows us how much Almighty God our Father loves us, we His children, and how He is always ready with open arms, and willing to forgive our sins and trespasses when we come back to our senses, recognize right from wrong, admit our weaknesses and wrongdoings, eagerly and freely return to Him and with faith and repentance ask for His forgiveness.
In our Maronite Catholic Church's rite, on the Fourth Lent Sunday, that fall this year on March 03, we recall and cite the biblical Lost Son's parable that is known also as The Prodigal Son. This impulsive, selfish and thoughtless son, as the parable tells us, fell prey to evil's temptation and decided to take his share of his father's inheritance and leave the parental dwelling.
This Lost Son, who became a slave for his bodily earthly instincts' motives and pleasure urges travelled to a far-away city where he indulged badly in all evil conducts of pleasure and corruption until he lost all his money and became penniless. He experienced severe poverty, starvation, humiliation and loneliness. In the midst of his dire hardships he felt nostalgic, came back to his senses and decided with great self confidence to return back to his father's house, kneel on his feet and ask him for forgiveness. On his return his loving and kind father received him with rejoice, open arms, accepted his repentance, and happily forgave him all his misdeeds. Because of his sincere repentance his Father gave him back all his privileges as a son.
The Lost (prodigal) Son's parable:
Luke 15/11-32: "Jesus went on to say, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger one said to him, ‘Father, give me my share of the property now.’ So the man divided his property between his two sons. After a few days the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing. So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. At last he came to his senses and said, ‘All my father's hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve! I will get up and go to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and started back to his father." He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ But the father called to his servants. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’ And so the feasting began. “In the meantime the older son was out in the field. On his way back, when he came close to the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him, ‘What's going on?’ ‘Your brother has come back home,’ the servant answered, ‘and your father has killed the prize calf, because he got him back safe and sound.’ The older brother was so angry that he would not go into the house; so his father came out and begged him to come in. But he spoke back to his father, ‘Look, all these years I have worked for you like a slave, and I have never disobeyed your orders. What have you given me? Not even a goat for me to have a feast with my friends! But this son of yours wasted all your property on prostitutes, and when he comes back home, you kill the prize calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father answered, ‘you are always here with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be happy, because your brother was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’”
Almighty God is ready and always willing to turn everything around and take the hands of those who seriously and honestly pursue His mercy with perseverance forgiveness and repentance. He, with love and extreme happiness leads their steps towards all virtues of righteousness. He who in the Cana Wedding changed the water into wine and cured the Leper is willing all the time also to transform our minds and consciences from wickedness to goodness and salvation if and when we call for His help.
Lent is a prime time for spiritual change through genuine praying, serious and in depth self-examination, return to the roots of faith, repentance and forgiveness. Meanwhile fasting is not a mere act of abstaining from eating for 12 hours during the Lens day, but a time for temporary detachment and dissociation from all instincts urges and all that is earthly.
Lent is a precious time for learning via a very personal experience how to share in acts and not in words the poor, deprived, persecuted, alienated and sick. And most importantly to seriously remind ourselves that we are just transient visitors on this earth, no matter how big are our earthly riches and how much influential our power and authority might be. Reality is that once Our Al Mighty God takes back His gift of life, (soul), our bodies parish and with a very short period of time disintegrates and become dust from which it was basically made.
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the
ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will
return". (Genesis 03:19)
During the Lent time we are required to go through a thorough self - examination process to cleanse our thoughts, conscience and mind from all that is instincts' motives and urges. We need to peruse genuinely self peace and reach to every body else for a comprehensive peace. Talking directly with God through praying helps in reach these two sorts of peace.
"Where do wars and fightings among you come
from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? You lust,
and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You
don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask
with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. You adulterers
and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with
God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy
of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives
in us yearns jealously”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God
resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Be subject therefore to God.
But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will
draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you
double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning,
and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will
Asking Almighty God for what ever we need is exactly what the Holy Bible instructs us to do when encountering all kinds of doubt, weaknesses, stumbling, hard times, sickness, loneliness, persecution, injustice etc.
"And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11/09-13)
We are not left alone at any time, especially when in trouble, no matter how far we distance ourselves from God and disobey His Holy bible. He is a Father, a loving, caring and forgiving Father. What is definite is that in spite of our foolishness, stupidity, ignorance, defiance and ingratitude He never ever abandons us or gives up on our salvation. He loves us because we His are children. He happily sent His only begotten son to be tortured, humiliated and crucified in a bid to absolve our original sin.
God, Our Father, carries our burdens and helps us to fight all kinds of Evil
temptations if we call for His help and believe in Him. He is our loving and
caring Father, and we are His children. A loving father never abandons his
children and what we have to is ask.
"Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew11/28-30)
God is waiting for our repentance, let us run to Him and ask for forgiveness before it is too late. "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21/22)
*Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
*Web sites http://www.10452lccc.com & http://www.clhrf.com
*Mailing phoenicia group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Phoenicia/.