Daily Meditations

Becoming Fathers and Mothers

Becoming Fathers and Mothers

What are we going to do when we get home? When the two sons of the parable of the prodigal son both have returned to their father, what then? The answer is Simple: They have to become fathers themselves. Sons have to become fathers; daughters have to become mothers. Being children of God involves growing up and becoming like God. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to say this: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate” (see Matthew Y48 and Luke 6:36). How? By welcoming home our lost brothers and sisters the way our Father welcomes us home


The Tears of the Father

The father in the story of the prodigal son suffered much. He saw his younger son leave, knowing the disappointments, rejections, and abuses facing him. He saw his’ older son become angry and bitter, and was unable to offer him affection and support. A large part of the father’s life had been spent waiting. He could not force his younger son to come home or his older son to let go of his resentments. Only they themselves could take the initiative to return.

During these long years of waiting the father cried many tears and died many deaths. He was emptied out by suffering. But that emptiness created a place of welcome for his sons when the time of their return came. We are called to become like that father.


A Father’s as Well as a Mother’s Love

The father in the story of the prodigal son is mother as well. His running out to welcome his son, his embrace and kisses’ his offering of the best robe, the ring, and the sandals, and his throwing a party are not the typical behavior of a’ distant patriarch. They express so much tenderness, nurturing care, and self-effacing forgiveness that in them we see both motherly and fatherly love fully present.

The perfect love of our heavenly Father includes as well as transcends all the love that a father and mother can have for their children. We may think about the two hands of God embracing us as a mother’s hand and a father’s hand: one caressing, consoling, and comforting; the other supporting, encouraging, and empowering. We too are called to be father and mother to those who want to come home.

~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith