I always identified with the first son who stayed home to take care of his responsibilities while the other brother squandered away his inheritance. I understood the irritation with his father when he welcomes back the second brother with open arms. How was that even fair? I realize the overarching point is God’s great mercy and forgiveness, but I always kept that solidarity with the first rule-following, responsible son.
And then last year happened. My life got really messy really quickly. My heart felt cracked wide open as I realized I had some long-standing wounds I had never dealt with but avoided them by merely slapping proverbial bandaids on scabs. My family was supportive even if they didn’t always understand. I remember my mom telling me that my brother called her one day and asked tentatively, “Hey, how’s Christie doing?”.
I was simultaneously embarrassed and touched that he asked. The fact that even my younger brother in college was picking up on my somewhat disastrous state was almost funny. Sitting in adoration, I once again came across the story of the prodigal son but suddenly the story shifted for me. I could commiserate with the second son. He must have felt so sheepish and miserable facing his family; all of his flaws and failures fully exposed for them to see. And instead, he was met with overwhelming grace. Hallelujah. We serve a good God.
That’s what is so powerful about these stories. We find ourselves inside of them. We can come back to them year after year and find new meanings. The stories are unchanging but equally dynamic. We live in a world that is so fleeting, where each new trend turns over so quickly. The word of God is our steady light to guide our paths.
This is the living word that flows so freely. So let’s jump right in.
Christie Peters is an artist and teacher living in the great state of Texas. This past year she and Kassie Manning created Every Sacred Sunday, the first NAB Mass journal.