“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and [now] is found” (Lk 15:24)
Without a doubt, Gus had become a troubled young man.
Yet if you had seen him as a young boy, you probably would never have suspected that he would turn into such a rebel.
In fact, up until his mid-teens, Gus had seemed pretty much like a model Christian youth!
His mother’s faith was very strong and she had made sure the boy got a solid Christian education.
Birthday parties for children have become quite extravagant. As a child, I was happy to get a present, some cake, and pick my favorite meal for the family dinner. Today children get parties that nearly force their parents to take out a new mortgage-petting zoos, building rentals, jupiter jumps, guest lists, party favors, clowns, magicians, big ticket presents. Lisa once was quoted $200 for a silly fire truck birthday cake. We went with the cheap grocery store option. Well, quite unlike our modern birthday infatuations, the Christian Church has never been real big on birthdays. In fact, the Church celebrates only two birthdays: Jesus and John the Baptist. The celebration of Jesus birth is a no-brainer. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Son of God incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the salvation of the world. Besides, everyone loves Christmas. But John the Baptist? The celebration of his birthday among all the saints might be a bit puzzling….
The Pharisee at the table with Jesus had it right. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” This is most certainly true. Unfortunately, the Pharisee wasn’t concerned with theological truths, but merely trying to change the subject. You see, Jesus had been upsetting the people at the dinner and this man was just trying to relieve the tension. Now the Pharisees thought they were doing Jesus a favor by having him over for dinner. Usually they didn’t socialize with simple commoners like Jesus, but they had heard interesting things about him. Perhaps Jesus would be interested in moving up in the world, even becoming a part of their club. So they had him over for dinner. The invitation meant they elevated Jesus to be their social and religious equal. They assumed he would share their values. It was expected he would be respectful and they would have a safe, agreeable discussion, like a bunch of Republicans or Democrats at a fundraiser. Jesus, however, sits down and begins to attack. First, He chides them for their lack of mercy, teaching them that compassion is desired always, even on the Sabbath. Then he challenges their pride, telling them to be humble and let others honor them rather than seeking the best seat for themselves Finally, Jesus confronts their pompous practice of only eating with a certain kind of people. He even tells them to open up their dinner table to all people, especially the outcasts of society, the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind… This would have been inconceivable to the Pharisees. They considered such outcasts to be under some type of judgment. Moreover, to associate or eat with such trash would have defiled them. Didn’t Jesus know his hosts?
“And [Abraham] believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6).
Hearing is believing.
It was a velvety black desert night. The sky was so clear you could almost reach out and touch the galaxies.
Stepping outside his tent, and looking up at the stars, Abraham recalled how—a quarter of a century earlier—God had told him to leave his homeland in Mesopotamia—in modern-day Iraq—along with his extended family.