Inclusive Hospitality and Unconditional Love

I am deeply touched by anyone who is filled with joy when they welcome back somebody who was, up to that point, given up on and believed to be "lost." Lost is a term that has many meanings. Among other things, it could mean a wayward person, a wild child, or a stubborn and hard-hearted person who often did not care about doing what was even in her or his own best interest. In other words, someone who is considered a hopeless case.

The change of heart of the people who had gone from feeling like their loved ones were no longer able to be reached, and had fallen from grace, to being full of welcome and openness in their hearts when they discovered that their loved ones, who were once thought to be outside of the influence of their love, have come back to their open arms receiving complete forgiveness and reconciliation. There is no better feeling than this kind of joyful reunion and celebration.

The flip side of that feeling is one where the upstanding and honorable family members or friends of those who have been given over to a reprobate mind find themselves angry and even resentful of the showering of affection and forgiveness that their, once written off, family member or friend has received upon "returning to the fold." Known as the "good one," these faithful family members and friends are often left with feelings of being disrespected and unappreciated for their consistent good behavior and dependability. Especially when those that they love, admire, and respect heap affection on those who once had left and went down a selfish and foolish path in their life, having turned away from living a life of dissipation, they get the royal welcome.

Which way would you respond to situation like this one? Showing joy and forgiveness to the wayward one or resentfulness and hurt over the love and celebration that one received? In Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 you can find a parable that Jesus told regarding this same type of family dynamic which is very common worldwide. After reading it, ask yourself: How is selfishness, indifference, repentance, a change of heart, and compassion experienced by all the characters in this parable?

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