The following is a reflection on Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32, the Gospel lesson for Lent 4C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
There is an arrogance that comes with believing and proclaiming that God – the God who created the heavens and the earth—loves us.
I mean, it’s true. In the fullest and most wonderful sense, it’s true.
But, it’s arrogance. A holy arrogance. An arrogance born in truth. An arrogance to be accompanied by awe and wonder.
There is an unholy arrogance though. It’s the arrogance that says that God loves me…but you? They? Those sinners? Hardly.
It is this form of arrogance to which Jesus submits the parable that we so often refer to as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. As is often helpfully pointed out by scholars, the parable isn’t centrally about the prodigal, as much as it is about the other son. The son who stayed. The son who was indignant that his father received and celebrated the son who left.
This parable was given by Jesus to the religious leaders of his day who were indignant that Jesus associated himself with “sinners.” Those religious leaders assumed that God loved them – of course God loved them – but the “sinners?”
I observe that the son-who-stayed, the son-who-pitched-a-fit wasn’t cast into the outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. He was simply compelled to regard his brother as his brother, and celebrate that his brother had returned.
For God’s character always receives those who repent and return, no matter what it is that we are turning from. When that returning son is us, we are received and celebrated. When that returning son is someone else, they are also received and celebrated.
And we are to be practitioners of holy arrogance, and that sort alone. In awe and wonder that God loves us, and our brothers and sisters, whoever they are and whatever they have done.