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More on Reconciliation

Lenten meditations on justice and peace

by Robert Waldrop

Sunday, March 22, the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Joshua 5:9, 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Again the Church returns us to the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Again we read of how the religious hypocrites pointed fingers at Jesus and whispered, "There goes that Jesus. See how he welcomes sinners and eats with them."

Again we read of a son who took his share of the inheritance and went off to a far country and blew all of his cash on high living.

Again we read of his fall from prosperity to penury, of his hunger, of his decision to return home and be a servant in his father's house.

And again we read of the welcome of the Father -- who sees him coming and rushes out to welcome him home in joy and relief.

It's not an accident that this parable comes up twice in this cycle of Lenten readings.

Paul tells us that those who are in Christ become new creations. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. We are to go and do likewise, to minister reconciliation, to heal those who are wounded, welcome those who are rejected, stand in solidarity with the despised and marginalized, all those who are pushed to the edge of society by those with power, authority, assets, and status.

It's not easy. But it is necessary.

Reconciliation seems to require the willingness to take risks for the sake of the Gospel, to be ready to sacrifice position and status in order to correct the wickedness that caused the breech and bring about a right resolution. Indeed, without such risk-taking, reconciliation would seem to be impossible.

A further challenge to reconciliation is when the reconciliation isn't wanted by all concerned, or when there is little communication among the parties. But it would seem to me that we don't have to rely solely on our own strength, but we can access grace and the love of God to help us break down the barriers that separate and divide us. On November 9, 1989, the peoples of East and West Berlin took pickaxes and began to tear away at the Berlin Wall. Today, the Wall is no more. A seemingly impenetrable wall of separation and division gave way miraculously (there is no other way to describe it) to unity and peace.

This perhaps can be a model for us in terms of reconciliation. Sometimes you just have to take your pickaxe and go chip away at a large barrier. It's crazy to think that with your little implement you could move a barrier as massive as the Berlin Wall. But if it happened once, it can happen again.

Prayer intentions today:

+ For all who are locked in prisons of fear, despair, and division, that reconciliation will be theirs, we pray to the Lord.

+ For all those who create prisons of fear, despair, and division, that they will repent of their wickedness and open their hearts to reconciliation with their victims, we pray to the Lord.

Praxis today:

+ Take your pickaxe and start chipping away at the Berlin Wall.

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