Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells three Parables of Mercy: the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. It is a response to the criticism made against him by Jesus contemporaries who are upset with him for welcoming publicans and sinners. They saw this as destroying the sharp separation that they thought God would maintain between the righteous and sinners. Jesus wants to help them understand God’s way of reasoning.
God treats us the way a father treats his children. He loves his child first of all, because he is his own flesh and blood. God loves us because he created us; we came from his heart. His love goes much further beyond our weaknesses and sins. God’s love is beyond anger, and persistently reaches out to us no matter what the offense. If he has preference it is for those most in need and he is the first to act and seek out the child who has gone astray. He is so focused on that one, it is as if no one else exists. So, for example, in the parable of the Lost Coin, even though it does not have the value of a sheep, we see the extreme of God’s love in the woman who commits herself wholeheartedly in a meticulous search to find the coin.
God has infinite patience. He awaits us and we give him immense joy every time, even if it is an infinite number of times, we return to him. We should open our hearts as God does – toward those who have distanced themselves from him, reaching out toward those most in need as this story of Dina relates.
I was married to Dave for 33 years and I loved him completely, yet something was not right in our marriage. When we were married eighteen years things got very difficult. He was aloof and acted like he didn’t want to be married anymore and I told him so. I told him he was free to leave, but I wouldn’t. For the next twelve years we would have periods when things were okay and then long periods when he would be emotionally distant.
There came a time when he seemed to be trying harder in our marriage. One night when the children were in bed we talked through the night. He confessed that he had had numerous affairs, which I suspected, and was in one at that time. He said he couldn’t choose between the other woman and me. I told him he needed to leave our home. He was very confused and needed to sort things out. In the morning he told the children he was leaving. It was the worst period of my life.
We talked every day; I had to make a conscious decision to forgive him for what he had done. There were times when I failed miserably.
I told Dave he needed professional help. To my surprise he spoke very honestly to a priest who suggested the same thing. More surprisingly he immediately set up regular sessions with a therapist. I learned about the horrible things that had happened to him as a child that he had buried. He was having horrible flashbacks and he was very fragile.
After two weeks I realized Dave needed to come home to heal but first we would need to have a family meeting. This was very painful for him. He needed to hear what the children had to say. The children were open and honest but some were not ready to have him come home. However I knew he needed to. In the end the family agreed. It was a rocky time of emotionally fragile people living together.
Dave continued therapy and he asked me to accompany him which I did not want to do. I was not the one messed up. I decided to do everything God was asking of me and I went to several sessions. I developed a great respect for the therapist.
Gradually things got better. It took a lot of hard work and prayer. We needed to build up trust again and talked a lot, avoiding hurting each other or unconsciously opening up old wounds. Without all the peoples’ prayers I don’t think I could have done it.
Two years late when things were getting better, Dave was diagnosed with cancer, dying fifteen months later. When he died he was healed emotionally and spiritually. It took a lot of courage and humility for Dave to deal with the damage that was done to him and the damage he did.
He became a whole, genuine person. God is good.
God Bless You,