Gifted by God


Gifted by God

A friend of mine has an expression that she uses often. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is in reference to something good that has happened, or a surprise, or even some bad news, her comment is “Bless the Lord!” The words of Psalm 34 today, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth … the poor one called, and the Lord heard” aptly sum up the messages in today’s readings as well as the responses of the people in the readings.

One thing that becomes clear, especially as we listen to St. Paul, is that God is the one who initiates the relationship with us, who continually provides for our needs and draws us closer to himself and to one another. This is illustrated in the Gospel story of the son who finally decides to return to his father and ask forgiveness. The son plans to tell the father that he no longer deserves to be called his son. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that he is not the father’s son because he deserved to be, but rather that he came as a result of his father’s loving relationship with his wife. His sonship is a gift, free and simple; he did nothing to deserve or earn that gift. The father makes no mention of repentance or forgiveness. He simply and lavishly embraces his some and welcomes him home! What are we to make of this in our own lives. I believe we are called to model our relationships on the example of the father. Too often we demand repentance, we seek some kind of restitution, some promise of conversion. All God asks is that we turn toward God’s love, no matter the motivation, and we are enfolded in that love.

We see the same kind of dynamic in the first reading. As the people prepare to enter the promised land and partake of the fruits of the land, they are reminded that this is God’s doing. They did nothing to deserve or earn this gift. As a matter of fact, throughout the journey from Egypt they acted like petulant, spoiled children, questioning God, rebelling and turning away. God’s love remained steadfast and that love is manifested in the gift of freedom in this new land.

As we journey through Lent, we are challenged to look at our attitudes and actions. I have to ask myself, “Am I willing to let go of many things in order to more closely follow the example of God’s love for me and for others?” How am I called to express that love? In my particular vocation, what does it mean to model the father’s love portrayed in the Gospel? What am I called to share with others to help them experience that love and welcome in their lives?

By Richard Beaudette, OMI
Vocation Team