marginalized and “the lost.” Aware of their anger he tells three short stories…each one designed to drive home exactly why he is doing what he is doing…attempting to reorient their understanding of the sinner and the tax collector… “the lost”. He is trying to tell them that God’s love, mercy and forgiveness is for everyone and it is not held back from anyone…regardless of their actions or status in life!
Arguably, the best known of these three stories is “the prodigal son” and with good reason as it is so jarring to our sense of what is right and what is fair. Each of the three main characters has an insight into human relationships or our relationship with God. But what always seems to take center stage are the lavish actions of the father. His love for his child is so great that it overpowers any other feelings that he might have had…disappointment, sadness or anger…they are all completely overpowered and blown away by his love for his child and his “thrill” at his child’s return!
And that is what Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees and religious leaders…that God’s love for us is so great that there is nothing that can hold it back from being poured out upon each one of us regardless of how great a “sinner” we may be! God’s forgiveness is LAVISHED upon us…the real challenge is to “live like the forgiven” …and to lavishly offer our love and forgiveness to others. Imagine what the world might look like if all of us throughout the world who claim to be disciples of Jesus were “lavish” in our love of the marginalized, “the lost”, the refugee and the immigrant…how different this humanitarian crisis at our southern border might look. Imagine if we lavished our love on those who are different from us, different by the color of their skin, different by their politics or religion or country of origin or sexual orientation or gender or age or economic status…imagine if we were all lavish with our love and forgiveness…just imagine! What would I need to let go of…or begin to do in order to better “live like the forgiven”? Who are “the lost” in my country, my neighborhood, my school, my family?...Who most need me to lavish love and forgiveness upon them?