At any cost. Reflection for marriages: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32


Your brother was dead and has come to life.

From the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'”

The Gospel of the Lord

At any cost.

Imagining ourselves within this narrative, we might advise the father, “Do you not see that your children are exploiting you?” Indeed, they are misusing his affection for their own gain. Yet, the father seems indifferent, content as long as they receive his love. This is the essence of love: it’s vulnerable, often taken for granted, yet ultimately, it showcases the true magnificence and nobility of the one who loves sincerely.

The father doesn’t prevent his son from departing with his inheritance, nor does he interrogate him upon his return, a return motivated not by love but by necessity. He also refrains from chastising his elder son for his jealousy towards his brother. The father’s primary concern is the joy of his son’s return, once lost and now found. That is the nature of love. And in that way, I must love my partner.

Applied to the context of marriage:

Margaret: Can you ever forgive me? I’ve caused you immense pain. In a fit of spite, I falsely accused you of abuse, leading to your arrest. I’ve banished you from our home, maligned you to our children, and haven’t spoken to your mother in months. I initiated divorce proceedings and attempted to strip you of everything, misled by my lawyer and sister…

Peter: Margaret, that’s not who you are. The critical thing is that you’ve had a change of heart and wish to reunite. You’ve recognized that without me, our family isn’t the same, nor is your life. You’ve reached out for me again. That’s what truly matters. My love for you has been unwavering, and it will remain so, irrespective of your actions. I love you not for what you do, but because you are yourself – my wife, my lifelong companion, with all your strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn’t replace you for anything or anyone. I love you because God has bound you to me, and His bonds are incredibly strong.

Margaret: I’m baffled, Peter. How can you love me so deeply? The way you’ve consistently responded to my confrontations and hostility with love is what has brought me to my senses.

Peter: I’m equally perplexed, Margaret. I never anticipated reacting like this, but it’s God’s will that I love you in this way. I saw you lost, seeking an exit in the wrong direction, and I yearned for you to rediscover the right path, whatever the cost. Such guidance comes only from God.

The task of retrieving the lost one is the Shepherd’s mission, the endeavour of Your Son, and the duty bestowed upon us as spouses when one strays. It’s a moment to await their return, to embrace them and shower them with affection without seeking explanations. This is how God loves me, and thus, I am compelled to love in response to His boundless affection. Blessed be the Lord, for His profound love. Amen.

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