So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
This beautiful parable gives us a warm and intimate image of God as a forgiving and loving father. As a good parent should, he has given his son licence to make mistakes – and learn from them. Ideally, this is how all parents feel about their children. We are also challenged to provide this example, loving this way in all of our relationships. It is challenging to do so because we have no defences from the pain of rejection & disappointment.
It is easy to fall into the trap of controlling as a form of ‘love’. However, we know our own growth occurs when we are free – including free to fail. Therefore, we need to model that to our young people. Yes, such love is open to abuse – but aren’t the successes breathtaking!
Have a great week!
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (Luke 10:36-37)
To the Jewish listeners to this story, the one who showed mercy was ‘the enemy’, someone to be distrusted; someone not ‘like us’. Implicit in this parable is that God does not care about petty human divisions. We are called to have compassion and show mercy, especially to those not ‘like us’. It is easy to be caught up in rules and regulations. It is also easy to be caught up in appearances. ‘What will others think?’ There is a wonderful recent example of following your heart and not being put off by others (story of Adelaide woman) Mercy costs so little yet can reap such a rich harvest. However, it can be mistaken for weakness.
So, we need to be people of compassion and mercy in how we behave around and towards the young people in our care, since they ‘read the Gospel in us’. We need to encourage them to display compassion and mercy to the people in their lives. In the midst of difficult times, such as we are currently living in, we need to guide our young people toward compassion and mercy, despite what the media or certain politicians may say. We also need to continue to educate young people about those in need, providing them with opportunities to display compassion and mercy, emulating Jesus.
Have a great week…and term!
Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? (Matt 7:3)
It’s terribly easy to find fault with others. After all, we have an ‘objective’ view. The twin imperatives of justice and compassion should direct our gaze elsewhere. In justice, I acknowledge my own failings. By doing so, I am able to be more compassionate toward others and their failings. In that way, I build community through right relationships.
Developmentally, young people are ‘caught up in their own stuff’. Given that they are in the midst of the delicate task of ego-building and meaning-making, we need to tread carefully. We need to help them glimpse their limitations, without crushing them, to build compassion in them. We also have a responsibility to hold them accountable for their failings. It is also our task to show the young people in our care that the doing of justice lies inward as well as outward. As it has been said, ‘the world will only change if we do’.
Have a great week!