The Belly Scarcely Understands Compassion (Part 2 of 3): A Series of Lenten Reflections on Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Jesus said, “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (5:32). Our world is filled with younger and older sons and daughters. What will it take for all of us to have enough? As our Lenten journey draws to a close and Easter approaches, my hope is that all of us would ask God to transform the desires of our hearts beyond these forty days.
The Belly Soliloquy is a story of two brothers faced with worldly temptations that cause them to reach for abundance, which threatens right relationship with God and community; but this parable is filled with good news too! Hope accompanies the possibility of forgiveness and transformation. Christ’s passion and resurrection is foreshadowed through the beautiful compassion that the father displays through the patience and love that he extends to both of his sons, even while they continue struggling to understand and fulfill the responsibilities that come with right relationship.
God hasn’t given up on us... Hope lives in and through us when we realize the way we interact in relationship with the rest of creation matters today.
Though we have made mistakes in the past and continue to wander from right relationship individually and collectively, God hasn’t given up on us. Because of God's grace, we don't have to be who we were yesterday, or even this morning. Because of God's mercy, we are not entirely defined by our mistakes, but how we learn and grow from them. Because of God's love, we are constantly in the process of becoming who we are. Hope lives in and through us when we realize the way we interact in relationship with the rest of creation matters today. This very moment offers up an opportunity to forgive and be forgiven - to love and be loved - to decide how we are going to respond to the joys of life, and yes, also the disappointments.
The Belly Soliloquy: The Faithful Response
The belly scarcely understands Compassion.
In selfish pursuit, it wanders from the land of reconciliation
the belly betrays itself as it chases after abundance.
“…one does not live by bread alone…” (Deut. 8:3, Luke 4:4)
Keep your belly led famine
“…I will get up
and go to my father…” (Luke 15:18)
I will join the household feast,
seek to reconcile relationship,
and welcome all into your fellowship.
I abandon my past claims:
“all that is mine is yours.”(Luke 15:31)
Lord Hear Our Prayer
God of mercy and grace, be present in our lives as we journey beyond this Lenten season. Continue to transform the desires of our hearts so that we are not distracted by the world’s temptations. Reveal to us the particular challenges that we have yet to recognize jeopardize the health of our personal and communal relationships. Forgive us for seeking abundance. Teach us to be content so that everyone may have enough.
- How do you think the concepts of “abundance” and “enough” fit into your personal faith journey?
- What do you think this parable has to say about social justice? Are there particular issues that come to mind after spending time with this parable?
- Do you think you live in right relationship with God, family, and neighbors near and far? If not, what are the obstacles getting in the way?
All who hunger, sing together; Jesus Christ is living bread. Come from loneliness and longing. Here, in peace, we have been led. Blest are those who from this table live their lives in gratitude. Taste and see the grace eternal. Taste and see that God is good.
FWS 2126, All Who Hunger: verse 3