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March 6, 2016

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in the Vietnam War. He called his parents from San Francisco.

“Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask, I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me.”

Sure,” they replied, “We'd love to meet him.”

“There's something you should know,” the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting.  He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."

“I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”  “No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”

“Son,” said the father, “you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own.”

At that point the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was a suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city quickly to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don't like people (even if they are members of our family) who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.  It is a contrast to the story in the Gospel this Sunday.   The merciful Father accepts his prodigal son unconditionally.

Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer for those who are rejected and also for yourself so that you may receive heavenly strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help you be more understanding of those who are different from you.  Our love for each other is just a reflection of God’s love for us.  The Prodigal Son Parable speaks of the unconditional love of God.  Do we appreciate God’s love and do we extend God’s love to others?