Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community

We Welcome You Wherever You Are On Your Journey

Saint Joan of Arc

Catholic Community

4537 3rd Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Phone: 612.823.8205
Fax: 612.825.7028

There's No Place Like Home: Chris Smith Reflection

"It's a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what's changed is you."  F. Scott Fitzgerald

It's amazing how you can relate to scripture readings in different ways throughout your life. Take this Sunday's gospel story of the prodigal son. When I was in high school, I identified with the older brother who stayed home, did what he was told, and didn't get the attention he wanted for doing the right thing. I watched my older brothers party, drink, and go crazy. In return they got snowmobiles, cars, and motorcycles and I got jack squat for following the rules, getting good grades, and not partying. Like the older brother in the story I couldn't figure out why my parents loved my three older brothers so much when they got in trouble so often and would come crawling back home after making some bad choices.  

The tables turned a bit when I was in college when I began to relate more to the defiance of the younger son in the story. I spent most of my time in the Twin Cities-not wanting to go back to the backward ways of the farm. I thought I was right and that my parents were wrong in most matters. I expected them to fork over huge amounts of cash to allow me to go to St. Thomas at when they were having a hard time just hanging onto the farm. I was clueless. I was focused on myself and didn't care much about what was going on at home. When my dad got cancer, I came slinking home-just like the prodigal son-admitting my mistakes and asking for forgiveness.

Most recently, as a father of three children who no longer live at home, I relate most closely with the father in this story. I am so happy when my children come home-even when they are staying with us a few days and stay out way too late-I am elated when they make it home safe and sound. When I know my 18 year old daughter attending college is coming home-even just for a few hours-I am excited about it for the whole week in anticipation of seeing her. Why am I so happy when they come home? I am happy they are healthy and safe. I am happy when they take time out of their weekend to reconnect with us. I am happy when we are together again as a family-the only way I really felt complete is when we are all together.

I can relate to the father in the story who welcomes his son who has squandered his inheritance and lived a selfish life of poor choices. Even though I may hear, "I'm not graduating, I failed a class," "I'm vegan-I can't eat any of this food," "I kind of got into a little car accident," "Nobody did well on that test, grades don't really matter anyway," "I didn't have any money, I used a credit card and now I missed payments-can you help?" Despite all these things, when your children arrive at your door, when they come back home, you hug them, tell them you love them, and try to help them help themselves out of the mess they are in.

A challenge with this Sunday's gospel is to assess which character you tend to be with your own family, or at work or school. Are you the self-righteous son, quick to judge and even quicker to demand what you deserve? Are you the younger son, making poor choices, thinking only of yourself, or realizing the error of your ways and ready to go back home? Are you the father, ready to forgive and love others unconditionally-celebrating what was once lost now being found?

Lent offers us a time to come home and to welcome others home. Lent offers us a chance to clear our lives of those things which can make us jealous of others, of judging others, of holding grudges, or hanging on to bad habits that can keep us from who or where we belong. Lent is a time to enter into the story of salvation history and find your place as you journey with Jesus right by your side.