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Spiritual Matters
Look for beauty found in life

October 16, 2013

The parable of two sons (Luke 15:11-32), also known as The Prodigal Son, begins "There was a man who had two sons.".Rocco Errico, an Aramaic scholar and Unity Minister, pointed this out to me once at a workshop we were hosting and I really began to think about this parable in a whole new way. I started to see beyond the prodigal to the obedient son, the lesson that he presents, and beyond that to receive the father's message.

Rocco shared that when Jesus said, "There was a man who had two sons," his audience, remembering the Old Testament stories of Cain and Able, Jacob and Esau, would have responded, "Oh no, God forbid!" I have two sons. They are the joy of my life, and they can be challenging. Each child has his own personality, their unique approach to life that is different from each other and from the parents.

To shorten a lengthy story, the younger son strays and returns, "was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." The elder son stayed at home and worked in the fields for his father. Not only are there two sons, there are two different stories being told for each son. There is the son's story, his experience, his expression of life, his belief system, his view of God. And, there is the father's.

The younger son is the bad boy. He wastes his energy, his money, on "loose living." Having lost everything he sinks to the lowest possible estate for a Jew, feeding the swine. Once he awakens to the wreckage he has made of his life he returns home fearfully wracked with a guilt trip, "I am not worthy to be called your son;" His view of God is of a punishing God; he believes he will be punished for his mistakes.

When the younger son is welcomed back, the older son gets angry and refuses to partake in the festivities. He's a whiner with a martyr complex, "Lo, these many years I have served you… you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends." His view of God is of a demanding God; he must work hard and do the right things in order to receive his reward.

Both of the sons' stories are valid within their frame of reference. But, from the father's frame of reference, neither of the sons' stories are True. In the mind of the father, there is no room for guilt and fear, no reason for selfish whining or martyrdom, God is not a punishing God nor is God a demanding God.

"God is Love" 1John 4:7, and what is absolute (God/Love) can have no opposite. Guilt, fear, selfishness, martyrdom, privilege, worry, doubt, resentment, have no real existence; they are not of God and therefore have no place in living the spiritual life. "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24.

Love tells us that all is forgiven; whichever way we stray, we can never be separate from God and the blessings of God, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." Luke 15:31. This is the message of the father. This is message of God to you: God's wholly, perfect child, "it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ." Romans 8:17.

"Everything is beautiful in its own way." Ray Stevens had a number one hit with this song in 1970. This is a true spiritual insight, for it is God vision; it is the spirit's vision of our being; beauty is all that truly exists, for God is beauty and what is absolute can have no opposite. You are beautiful!

Today we choose to be the beautiful child of God that we truly are. We see beauty all around us, even in the ugliness. For beyond the appearances lies the Reality of God. And so it is!

Blessings of peace, joy & love

The Rev. Matthew E. Long is pastor of Peace Unity Community.