Meditation written by Cathy Tamsberg.
Read by Colleen Farris.
Sister Joan Chittister calls the Benedictine practice of hospitality the unboundaried heart. “The Benedictine heart,” she says, “is to be a place without boundaries, a place where the truth of the oneness of all things shatters all barriers, a point where all the differences of the world meet and melt…”
Today’s text from Luke (15:1-3, 11b-32) is a story about the unboundaried heart of the father of a young man we have come to know as the Prodigal Son. Lazy, disrespectful, and ungrateful, he was a parents’ nightmare. Whatever values the father had tried to teach his son seem not to have stuck. So the boy goes off to control his own life and spend his fortune as he wishes. We know the outcome. Penniless and eating scraps fed to pigs, the humbled young man decides to come home—and he receives a totally undeserved joyous welcome.
This is one of those stories with rich meaning if we consider all of the characters. “When have I been the Prodigal Son? Am I instead the dutiful, resentful older brother?” are good questions to ask. But on this fourth Sunday in Lent, focus your attention on the actions of the father. How did he get past his own disappointment, self-doubt as a parent, and angry resentment so that he could run, not walk but run, to greet his wayward child with tears and open arms? I think the answer is his unboundaried heart.
Hearts without boundaries change the world. Sister Joan suggests, “Whatever happens to the heart is the beginning of a revolution” because “hospitality of the heart could make my world a world of potential friends rather than a world of probable enemies.” Pray today for a wide-open heart.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.