Saturday Meditation: Grace and the prodigal son

Rembrandt Prodigal Son photo

Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

By Leigh Mackintosh

18 March

Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

PSALM 103:1-4 (5-8) 9-12 ▪ MICAH 7:14-15,18-20 ▪ LUKE 15:11-32

The parable of the prodigal son is a meditation on spiritual grace. Consider the impatient, impulsive younger son who selfishly seeks instant gratification, who seeks reward without effort, who squanders his inheritance choosing a path of cheap grace. Only after losing everything does he discover life’s true value and rewards. Returning home on a path of repentance and humility, the younger son encounters true grace in the reconciling, healing love of his father. How might you encounter God’s grace in desiring nothing and receiving everything?

Consider the elder son: the workaholic who worships work and glorifies obedience as a moral duty. The one who disconnects from the joys of community, family and servanthood to become slave rather than son and heir. His is the path of pride and self-righteousness where grace is always another fatted calf to be won, an inheritance to be hoarded, a future salvation to be gained. Focusing only on his own merits and future’s rewards, he fails to rely on anyone or anything (including God). What is the focus of your life and work? Do you live only for the future and its rewards? How might you be more present to receiving rather than achieving God’s gift of grace?

Consider the third son Jesus, author of the parable and Son of God who shares a mutual loving relationship with the Father. He reveals that grace brings us together to create, incarnate, redeem, and transform the world. Jesus joyfully shares his ministry with us his disciples giving each of us power to become children of God. (John 1:12) Such an inheritance is not meant to be squandered or hoarded away, but extended and made possible for all to share in its rewards. When have you experienced God’s grace? How might you share this grace with others?

The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh is Associate Rector at St. Michael’s and looks forward to another year of growth, challenge, and transformation together on our spiritual journeys. She is married to Stephanie Eads and lives in Inwood, N.Y.