Precious, treasured, and wanted—we all want confirmation that we matter. While we wander, LOVE awaits! This is the message Jesus communicates—no matter how lost, forgotten, or shunned we may be, love and compassion wait. Will we be the ones who live that love? With open arms? Will we call others home? Will we seek that “home” for ourselves? Or will we be the ones declaring that someone is not deserving of that love, that welcome, that home?
Jesus lived the compassion and love that welcomed everyone into his midst, into his circle, and into his way of life. He gave access to abundant life to persons who were denied the fullness of life or who had strayed. What would our world be like if we followed this example?
Who is a long way off in my life? How can I welcome with joy? Run to them? Embrace with complete acceptance? Am I willing to be an instrument of God’s mercy, compassion, and love?
In his book, The Church of Mercy, Pope Francis discusses the parable of the Prodigal Son. What can you do as part of the church of mercy to show all people that they are the closest thing to God’s heart?
Maybe someone among us here is thinking, my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable; my unbelief is like that of Thomas. I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people.
But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said, “Father, I have many sins”? And I have always pleaded, “Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything.” We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God we are not numbers, we are important; indeed we are the most important thing to him. Even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.
Excerpted from The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis.