Sunday’s parable of the Prodigal Son is so familiar to us. We could probably tell the story from heart. The story is so well-known that it’s hard to reflect on it and find something newly applicable to our lives.
So let me propose this scenario: You’ve died and you come to the gates of heaven. You look inside the gate, and see your family and friends waiting to welcome you home. You’re just waiting for Jesus to call your name, stamp your passport and let you in. You’re a little bit nervous because you know there were many ways in which you were an unloving person during your life on earth. But you’ve also heard of the mercy of Jesus and you’re pretty sure he will look past those sins and give you credit for all the good you’ve done.
Suddenly you hear a familiar name you’ve seen this person on the news and you’ve seen his picture. He’s a terrorist mastermind, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. There’s a short conversationthe terrorist nods his head slowly, and then to your great shock and consternation Jesus stamps the guy’s passport and he enters heaven.
So here’s the question: will you come forward when your name is called, or are you angry and upset enough that you stay rooted to the spot and think “If that killer can enter heaven, then I don’t want any part of it.”
There’s a lot of the elder son in each of us. Personally, I would want that terrorist to fry. It goes deeply against my sense of justice that such a person would be admitted to heaven. Ditto for all of those who have visited nothing but death and destruction on the world.
Let’s imagine another scenario. You and Mother Theresa die at the exact same time. You’re standing there at the gates. You know she’s a shoo-in. Are you as confident about your own chances compared to her? If I hope for God’s mercy, then how can I resent it when that mercy is extended to others.
We pick and choose those who will be in our good graces, and we like to pick and choose who should go to heaven. How blessed we are that Jesus and his Father do not act this way.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!