That’s a stunning truth: God loves us when we are good, and God loves us when we are bad. God loves the saints in heaven and God loves the devils in hell equally. They just respond differently.
In a spirituality which is focused on others and their needs, the Eucharist becomes first of all a time to remember: to remember, in thanksgiving, how this community, to which we have committed ourselves, began, namely through the total self-sacrifice of its founder and leader, the Risen Jesus, and to recall, once again, the core value of self-sacrificing love by which the community is to live.
When, four years ago, I went to Saint Petersburg to see Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, I had little idea how much I would have to live what I then saw. I stand with awe at the place where Rembrandt brought me. He led me from the kneeling, dishevelled young son to the standing, bent-over old father, from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing. As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the untimely death of Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) – widely regarded as one of the most profound and influential spiritual writers of the 20th Century.
“The Return of the Prodigal Son” is Nouwen’s masterwork, a vivid and beautiful reflection on Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the prodigal son (1669), one of the most well-known parables of the Gospel. I am quite sure many have read this book; however, it demands a rereading in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. We are invited to go back to this very special gem.