Sunday – May 11, 2014

Luke 15:1-7

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

As Christians we are called into reconciliation, as our relationship with others is part of our relationship with God…

Just as Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them, we too are called to reach out to those who we do not agree with, and who do not agree with us.

Today is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate mothers, the love we share with them and their importance in the lives of their children…and this includes all mothers: from expectant mothers to the mothers of adult children, mothers who have lost children, mothers who are only with us in spirit and in our hearts, and of course, single mothers!

Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many…not only due to loss, but also due to family strife, resentment and for those who have been made to feel ‘less than’ because they are single or because of problems with the ‘other’ parent and their family. It can also be tough for those of us who are full-time single fathers…as it is on this day that we can be reminded of our losses and of the major changes in our lives…and to be very practical, it may feel unusual for us not to have our children with us on a pleasant Sunday, and we may be wondering what to do with ourselves.

There may also be issues of visitation, worries about what may be said and done during these visits, and what our children may be bringing home with them, not to mention concerns about how to make sure our own mothers can get to see their grandchildren, to make their Mother’s Day special.

Holidays such as Mother’s Day can be fraught with worries and bad feelings…within our family of origin, our extended (and estranged) family, and with our own kids…who can often push our buttons better than anyone else!

Thankfully many of these worries turn out to be un-founded, but not all of them, as there can be a lot of contention within families…just as within our world today, contention seems to becoming more prominent.

Although we all come from different cultures, traditions, ideologies and beliefs, one of the things that many of us can agree on is that there is too much contention in our world…far too often it seems that we are called to pick sides between “us” and “them”, and whichever side we are not on is vilified and insulted. Many of us may look at this situation and feel like there is nothing we can do to make things better, to help each other to “just get along”; however, this is not entirely true, as we can begin to make a difference in small ways…like in our own families!!!

While Mother’s Day can be a cause for contention, it can also be a time for reconciliation and of forgiveness…a time of understanding and acceptance, as Christ calls upon us to reconcile and to love each other, not to always agree, but to put aside our differences and to remember that we are all part of the same family, all well-loved children of God! To reconcile with those we have struggled with can make this holiday a true time of joy and of reunion…a time to let the light of Christ shine through our lives and relationships to brighten up the darkness caused by misunderstandings and conflict.

It may not always be easy for us to “bury the hatchet” (when we may want to use it in a different way) but I found that it helps if we can practice forgiveness by praying for those we hold resentments towards, once praying for them, it becomes easier to forgive and reconcile.

And reconciliation is crucial for our faith, and for our families…especially our children, who often feel as if they are caught in the middle of conflicts between their estranged parents, grandparents, step parents, uncles, aunts, etc.

Reconciling with family members and friends that we have differences with we can ensure that that our children will not be denied the presence of these people in their lives, and will not make our resentments theirs…helping to keep the family together.

Practically speaking, by making amends we can also help ourselves, not only can resentments be heavy things to carry around on our backs, but also if we can get along well with those closest to us, we will also have more sources of help and support for us in the difficult job of raising our children as single parents.

By making the reconciliation and love of Christ known within our own families, by embracing those with whom we do not always see eye to eye, forgiving those who have hurt us and pushed our buttons, making amends to those we have hurt, and accepting others as they are (as we often have to do within a family) we will be taking a step towards making the Kingdom of God a reality in our midst…by taking small but significant steps towards ending the growing Culture of Contention in this world, and turning it into a Culture of Reconciliation.

Let us Pray:

God, thank you for loving us and accepting us just as we are, in spite of our failings, faults and sins; thank you for embracing all of us sinners as your children, and for offering us forgiveness and reconciliation through the sacrifice of Christ. Please help us to make Christ known within our families by offering forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation to the people in our lives, so that we can make amends with those who are important to us and to our children. Let us teach reconciliation to our children, and by doing so, show them how to make the kingdom of God into a reality here in our midst.

Amen

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