By Father Allan Weinert, CSSR
In the Catholic tradition, Lent is identified by the ashes, the color purple and the Stations of the Cross.
It is a story from the Jewish tradition.
The story is about a father and his adult son who lived together in a single family home. Their relationship was contentious, and heated arguments often broke out. Conversations on simple subjects ended in shouting matches. Thing is, the dad was kind of a grumpy old man and not easy going.
One evening, after one of these outbursts, the son said to himself, “There is no way my father and I can live in peace in each other’s minds and hearts. It is better that I leave to live elsewhere.
In the morning, he told his father about his plans. He left and left no forwarding address. Initially, the father thought, “We will finally have peace in this house.
After about a week, the father realized that he missed his son and that, despite their considerable differences, he truly loved him. If only we could agree to disagree, he thought.
He called his servant and said to him, “Go get my son. Tell him I love him and want him to come home.
The servant did not know where to look but started by asking people if they had seen his master’s son. He gathered enough accurate information to find the son, and when he did, he conveyed his master’s wishes.
The son thought about his father’s request to come home and was comforted by it, but he also remembered how difficult it was to live with his father. He said to the servant, “Tell my father that I cannot go home. It’s too far.”
The servant returned and informed the father of his son’s response. The father was saddened because he hoped for a happy reunion.
He thought for a moment and then said to the servant, “Go back and find my son. This time, tell him to come back as far as possible, and I’ll go the rest of the way.
Coming home is the essence of our Lenten journey. We don’t have to do it all by ourselves. I don’t think we’ve strayed too far. But if we look carefully, maybe we can find an ideal we’ve lost, a promise we haven’t kept, or an expectation we’ve failed to live up to.
Subtly woven into the fabric of all the prayers we pray, the scriptures we hear, and the songs we sing during this time is a silent inner movement from sin to grace; from death to life; from darkness to life; and from fear to trust.
Redemptorist Father Allan Weinert is pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in New Orleans.