M is for…

…his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.
He ran out to meet him,
threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

I’ve repeated yesterday’s scripture passage with very good reason…

M is for Mercy. Of all of characteristics of God which Jesus revealed, I find God’s all-inclusive love to be the most powerful. An extremely close second is God’s mercy. To be certain that his message was crystal clear, Jesus taught mercy first through his interactions with others. Jesus extended mercy generously to all, especially the isolated souls disdained by everyone else. To underscore his every word in this regard, Jesus offered the unforgettable Parable of the Prodigal Son. If any of us question our worthiness of God’s love and mercy, this story definitively assures us that, indeed, God deems each one of us worthy.

Jesus begins the parable with a son’s request to be given his inheritance early. Among Jesus contemporaries, such a request gravely insulted a parent. The offending child essentially demanded, “Behave as though you’re dead so I can have my money.” According to the parable, in spite of his son’s selfishness and disregard for his feelings, that father gave his son what he asked. The son responded by leaving town and squandering every cent. The young man had reached rock bottom when he found work tending swine. In the end, he realized his wrong-doing and returned home to beg his father to allow him to work as a servant. As Luke’s passage tells us, this father would have none of it. At the sight of his son, mercy and love flowed from the man who embraced his wayward child and welcomed him home.

God promises the same reception to you and to me regardless of how frequently it is required…

Loving and Merciful God, thank you!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Share God

When they fulfilled the prescriptions
of the law, they returned to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,
and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40

When our sons were born, we planned for their baptisms shortly afterward. No discussion was necessary. In our minds, it was only natural to share our faith with them. This endeavor went far beyond the day the priests poured water over their heads. Their dad and I weren’t simply sharing membership in the church. We were sharing our relationships with God.

I discovered early on that my parents did a good job of this. Though times were often tough, they never missed the silver lining in their circumstances. They had no doubt that God watched over them. Even when my young dad faced his own passing, he referenced this God who would see to everything for us and for him. My mom shared this conviction which saw her through the tough years which lay ahead. As for me, knowing that God understands has sustained me through many trials and tribulations throughout my life.

When Mary and Joseph first took Jesus to the temple, they planted the seeds of faith in him. It was up to him to make the most of this gift. When we introduce our children to God, our efforts are no less important. However we relate to our Maker, let’s share this with our kids.

Dear God, thank you for reaching out to us in such a variety of ways. Help us to share the treasure of knowing you with those you place in our care.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

M… Mercy, Gift to Us All

While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.
He ran out to meet him,
threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

M is for Mercy. Of all of God’s gifts, I’m most appreciative of God’s mercy and our capacity to extend mercy to one another. I think God’s love is so powerful that there’s no question about God’s propensity to deal with us as only the most loving and concerned parent would. We are the ones who need frequent lessons in loving one another and in all that this love encompasses.

When we truly love another, we respond to that person with compassionate understanding. When that person fails in one way or another, we respond with openness and an attempt to understand. Even when the poor choices of others befuddle us, we assist as best we can. There’s no room for judgment here. Rather, we help the object of our affection to remedy the situation as best he or she can and then to move forward. Though there are rare occasions when we simply must walk away, it seems most merciful to try to do something beforehand.

Jesus taught mercy through his interactions with others and he underscored these lessons with the unforgettable Parable of the Prodigal Son. In this story, the offending child essentially demanded, “Behave as though you’re dead so I can have my money.” The young man wanted his inheritance early and his father obliged. This son left town and squandered every cent. When he’d wasted everything and was left to tend swine, the young man realized his wrong-doing. He returned home to beg his father’s forgiveness and to work as a servant. This father would have none of it. At the sight of his son, mercy and love overpowered the man who embraced his child and welcomed him home. God does the same for us and asks only that we do the same for one another.

Merciful God, thank you for teaching us your merciful ways. Help us to take your lessons to heart.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

M… for Mercy

…his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved.
He ran out to meet him,
threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

I realize that there is only one “M” in the alphabet and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity yesterday to celebrate Memorial Day with that M. Still, since God’s merciful love is the source of all of our hope, it merits recognition as well…

M is for Mercy. Of all of the characteristics Jesus exhibited, I find mercy to be the most powerful. Jesus taught mercy masterfully in his interactions with others. Then, he underscored these lessons with the mercy he extended to all, especially the isolated souls disdained by everyone else. To insure that we appreciated his every word and deed in this regard, Jesus offered the unforgettable Parable of the Prodigal Son. If any of us question our ability to be lovingly and mercifully forgiven, this story dispels all doubt.

In Jesus’ community, a request for an early inheritance insulted a parent gravely. The offending child essentially demanded, “Behave as though you are dead so I can have my money.” According to the parable, in spite of his son’s selfishness and disregard for his feelings, that father gave his son what he asked. The son responded by leaving town and squandering every cent. The young man had reached rock bottom when he eventually found work tending swine. In the end, he realized his wrong-doing and returned home to beg his father to allow him to work as a servant. As Luke’s passage above tells us, this father would have none of it. At the sight of his son, mercy and love filled up the man who embraced his wayward child to welcome him home.

God promises the same reception to you and to me.

Merciful God, thank you!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our BFF

His father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

If you have a best friend, you likely recall the important experiences you’ve shared over the years. You may have a gift from this person or a photo of the two of you which you treasure. We cherish our best friends. They know what is on our minds before we do. They can finish our sentences. They help us through the most difficult times and they share our greatest joys. The impact of our best friends is beyond words.

Odd as this may sound, I need to share that I count God among my friends. Indeed, God tops the list as my very best friend. My granddaughters tell me that God is my BFF (They had to teach me that this means “Best Friend Forever”.) and they are correct. I am grateful for God’s acceptance of each of us for who we are and I am grateful that God loved us long before God created us and asked that we love one another. God values humility and service. God also acknowledges our frailties. I am grateful for these things as well. Most of all, I appreciate knowing that there is nothing I can do which is unforgivable in God’s eyes.

When Jesus offered The Parable of the Prodigal Son, he illustrated the character of my BFF perfectly. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is a constant offering to you and me. Though we are all free to spend our lifetimes rejecting God’s love, God’s embrace awaits us just the same.

Loving God, thank you for serving as BFF to every one of us.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Share The Treasure

When they fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord, they returned
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong,
filled with wisdom,
and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40

When each of our sons was born, we planned his baptism shortly after birth. No discussion was necessary, except regarding who the godparents would be. In our minds, it was only natural to share our faith with our children. This endeavor went far beyond the day the priests poured water over our sons’ heads. We weren’t simply sharing membership in the church. We were sharing our relationships with God.

I discovered very early on that my parents did a good job of this. Though times were often tough, they always saw the silver lining in their circumstances. Perhaps what they actually saw was God watching over them. Even when my young dad faced his own passing, he referenced this God who would see to everything for us and for him. As for me, knowing that at least God understands has sustained my through many a trial and tribulation.

You know, when Mary and Joseph first took Jesus to the temple, they planted the seeds of Jesus lifelong relationship with his faith community and with God. When we introduce our children to God, our efforts are no less important. However we relate to our Maker, let us share this with our kids.

Dear God, thank you for reaching out to us in such a variety of ways. Help us to share the treasure of knowing you with our children.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved