In the famous parable of the prodigal son, Jesus’ description of the father gives us a glimpse of what it looks like for us to be emotionally mature adults. The church is full of “younger sons” who wander from the love of God every time he does not meet their expectations. It is also full of “elder brothers” who are angry, bitter, and grumpy. I know them both well. I relate to both. Yet people are desperately looking for fathers and mothers in the faith who are able to embrace, love, empathize, be present, and forgive freely. It is a love without conditions, something the world knows very little about. To become this kind of person does not come naturally.
As Henri Nouwen has written:
I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God. Then, and only then, can I say carefully and very gently what I hear. I know now that I have to speak from eternity into time, from the lasting joy into the passing realities of our short existence in this world, from the house of love into the houses of fear, from God’s abode into the dwellings of human beings.
Father, help me to be still and listen to you, feel your embrace, and rest in your love—and then to speak to others from that place. In Jesus’ name, amen.