18 March 2006

Let us Feast

We do not normally think of Lent as a time of feasting. Today's Gospel of the prodigal son and the "feast" that is proclaimed at the sight of his return give us a small window into how the Lord rejoices when any of us children come home -- so to speak -- and leave behind unvirtuous ways.

In a book entitled "Bathe Seven Times" by Mother Nadine, there are insightful suggestions which complement the traditional notions of feasting and fasting: "Fast from judging others and feast on Jesus in them. This gives us something positive to do. Many people find it hard to fast from judging others. Some actually feed on judging others. It feeds their superiority, it feeds their pride, it feeds their own self-image. We need to take time to look at how we feed ourselves. How do we feed ourselves instead of letting God feed us?"

Indeed, when we refrain from actions which are not life-giving, such as looking in judgment on our neighbors, we open ourselves to be fed by the Lord. The elder son in today's Gospel stood outside the party because he judged not only his prodigal brother but his generous father. When we "starve" these temptations and refuse to give in to them, we may enter the feast which the Lord has prepared.

"We must always judge, as far as possible, in favor of our neighbor. If one action could bear a hundred aspects, we should always consider that which is the most favorable."
St. Francis de Sales

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