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I’ve been struggling with this post because I thought it should be about my personal views on the recent events in the Vatican. Realistically, however, it is not my place to question or criticize anyone. I know that.

Then today’s gospel, the parable of the Prodigal Son, put it all in perspective for me. Seriously. It’s one of those scriptural threads that forms a seam in the patchwork quilt of my life. That thin black thread of the same words holds together all sorts of colours and textures.

When I was a child and first heard the parable, it seemed so very unfair to the eldest son. It was probably one of the rare moments I came close to understanding why my big sister was dedicated to ridding herself of a troublesome younger sibling.

I knew that, of course, a parent will forgive their child. But, still, shouldn’t the dad have at least given the prodigal a bit of a smack? Even at that age I’d already experienced the ‘I’m so glad you’re safe but if you ever do that again I’ll kill you’ hug/shake/hug a few times. Usually followed with, well I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

As if.

Then, about 26 years ago or so, a friend suggested I come to church with her. Her son was attending the local parochial school and there was a shortage of candidates for the school board. The parish priest had insisted there should be a majority of actual Catholics standing for the positions. My friend knew I had a membership in the club but hadn’t been too scrupulous about keeping up my dues. This was her way of trying to get me through the doors and maybe, just maybe, become a trustee on the school board. The length some people will go to get volunteers.

The gospel that Sunday was, yup, you guessed it, the parable of the Prodigal Son. I heard it as the prodigal who had gone through a time of physical as well as spiritual famine. The door was opened to me without question.

Today I heard it as a parent of children who are out wandering in their personal desert. I heard it as a parent standing in the doorway, arms open and waiting. I don’t need to know where they have been or what they have done. I only want to hold them and tell them there is always room for them here.

We are that parable in all it’s parts. We are petty, we are vain, we are loved and we are cherished.