March 10, 2010

A Hole in My Soul

4th Sunday of Lent (C)
March 14, 2010
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 “He was lost and has been found”

After thirty three years of unwavering search, Abel Madariaga of Buenos Aires finally found his long lost son Francisco. Trembling before the national news camera in Argentina, Abel said, “I never stopped thinking I would find him. At times I wondered what the hell I was living for. I had to find a way to continue, thinking about everyday things, hoping for this moment of happiness. When he came through the door that night, we recognized each other totally, and the hug that brought us together was spectacular. Hugging him for the first time, it was as if I filled a hole in my soul.”

As we come closer to Holy Week, our gospel brings us to the much-loved story of sin and forgiveness between father and son. We destroy our relationship with God when we live in sin. The parable portrays this truth when the younger son asked his inheritance from his father and went astray to a distant land. Sin is precisely like that – cutting ties and declaring independence from the Father. And when one disconnects with the Father, he disconnects himself with the source of grace. There is no fullness of life outside the Father’s love. Anyone who lives in sin feels that sense of “emptiness” that no worldly pleasures and treasures could fill. It’s a hole in our souls. Ironically, it could lead us back to our senses and walk us back to the Father. Unfortunately, it cost the son all his inheritance to realize this.

The huge wealth he inherited quickly drained as he carelessly indulged in worldly pleasures. And when all his wealth and “party” friends disappeared, and found himself miserable in the company of pigs, he realized his stupidity and repented.

But to repent is not just genuine sorrow and tears. John the Baptist insists on restitution: “Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance.” (Luke 3:8). St.Ignatius of Loyola is not satisfied with “vague and generalized sense” of sorrow and repentance for one’s sins. He wants a more personalized, particular and concrete way of recalling one’s sins. We need to accept the root of our sins (which are self-love, self-will, and self-interests), repent and amend. To name our sins is to tame it. The son, after coming to his senses, humbly said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your servants.” If pride is the first step away from the Father, humility is the first step back home.

Tiger Woods said it well in his public apology for cheating his wife, “For all that I have done, I am so sorry. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends…It’s now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I’ve made. As (my wife) Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time…”

When the son finally came to his senses, he made three important acts of genuine repentance: went home, beg for forgiveness and made restitutions.

The rest of the story is for you to digest in prayer. Is our best glimpse of God’s love. Close your eyes. Imagine that you’re the son - stinking like a pig and totally filthy. Then, oblivious of your smell and appearance, the Father lovingly hugs you. Then hear Him say, “I’m glad you’re home.” That’s more than enough to fill that hole in your soul.

-Fr. Willy M. Samson.SJ / Sacred Heart Jesuit Community, Los Gatos / March 14, 2010

read story of father and son :;_ylt=At1BxHAlXxhenaFWw6zx7V7lWMcF

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