The long way home

The 4th Sunday in Lent
Year C
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

It's a long way home. 

The reading from Luke's Gospel this Sunday describes the despair of a young man who has burnt his bridges, squandered his fortune and separated himself from his family.  Alone, and at a distance from his hearth and home, he reflects finally that he still has the power to

"...arise and go to my father and to say to him, Father I have sinned against heaven and before you..."

For reasons that I can only dimly remember - bored in a university library somewhere -  it is the only line in Anglo-Saxon that I ever memorized. 

There are a million details about family relationships in the near-East which can make some sense of this parable in its own context - the shame of the youngest son, the love of the Father, the righteous anger of the older brother. 

We've heard some of these sermons in our time.

While they do illustrate the story and provide colour, sense, time and place to a story with a Palestinian provenance, the story holds its own equally in the fens of East Anglia or the hills of Wales - in Anglo-Saxon or French or Swahili.  We are that son - at a distance.  We can magnify that distance with regret until it seems we are light years away from reconciliation.  We might even inure ourselves to a life of alienation by making peace with the pain and giving up before we've begun.

Or we can get up - get up and go home. 


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