Lenten Devotional: March 25

The Primary Addiction

— By Beth Long

On the fourth Sunday of Lent the gospel reading from Luke is of the father with two sons. The younger son asks for his portion of the inheritance while his father is still alive. He comes to ruin and returns home, willing to be only a servant in the household and nothing more. The older son, the good boy who kept the rules, is filled with resentment that his profligate younger brother is welcomed home and about to be celebrated. He believes he is entitled to what is left of his father’s estate, not to mention his father’s favor, having lived the responsible life. 

The interchange between parent and elder child is the invitation and the challenge of this text. “You are always with me. All that Is mine is yours.” Are you going to come into the party and celebrate? Yes, no? We never do find out. (The question is actually for us, the readers, is it not?) 

What does this have to do with reparations or justice? You are always with me. All that Is mine is yours.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.'” 

Luke 15:31

The primary addiction is to me, myself, and mine. Our grasping, stealing, lying, cheating, murdering, coveting is all about ME, MYSELF, and MINE. If there is no separate someone to protect, there is nothing to lose. And if nothing is withheld, what fear can there be that someone else is gifted? If that were recognized we probably wouldn’t be talking about reparations or justice. 

As long as it is believed that a “someone” is there to be aggrieved, grievances are likely to be created. What sense does it make to grasp what cannot be lost, what is never not available, what is always given and utterly free? 

And so, me and mine who, are believed to be real–and really special, hang on for dear life to all that seems to identify what is “me” and “mine.” 

Yet, still, the homecoming party never ends, and the invitation to celebrate never ceases. I’d say come on in and take a seat at the banquet table, except that you’ve never been anywhere else.