One day on retreat I had a deep experience of the Father’s love and I want to share it with you. It’s inspired by what may be the most compelling story about God in the Bible and the greatest short story ever told anywhere: Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
I spent some quiet hours meditating on Jesus’ story and the depiction of it in the “Coming Home” statue at Christ’s Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA.
I teach simple steps for you to do this process of prayer and imaginative meditation in our Ignatian Meditation Guides. This way of reading Gospel texts was developed by Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th Century and has become world-famous. It’s a delightful way of meditating that fosters fresh insights and a healing encounter with God as our loving Father.
I discovered that Jesus’ parable is misnamed because the real Prodigal in the story is God! Prodigal means “wasteful, lavish spendthrift.” Sure enough, the son squanders his inheritance in sinful living. But the father wastes his wealth and lavishes his love on his son again and again. I invite you to open your heart to the Prodigal Father who loves you extravagantly!
In his story, Jesus gives us an unforgettable picture of God as a loving Father beyond our wildest imagination. It’s a picture that ministers healing to our father wounds and renews our image of God.
Here, Jesus’ arms are open wide to us to forgive our sins and heal our hurts. Here, God accepts us as we are and empowers us to become all that we can be. Here, we meet God as loving Abba, our dear Papa (Mark 14:36). This is what Jesus knew personally and it defined everything about him.
I invite you to experience the love of Jesus’ Abba with me by reflecting on my prayer poem, Prodigal Father. I wrote this during my retreat after prayerfully imagining myself in Jesus’ wonderful story. I hope my reflections will help you to see Abba’s smile on Jesus’ face and to feel Him close to you in Jesus’ embrace.
I also hope you’ll download our Soul Shepherding resource for imaging yourself in favorite passages in the Gospels. It’s filled with 60 easy to print and handy one-page Ignatian Meditation Guides. They’re great for personal devotions and small groups!
“Give me!” I said to God; I went away to a far country. Used and abused, as I’d done to God, to the pigs I cried, “Feed me!”
Starving and alone, thinking right — for the first time — I return home. Head drooping, feet shuffling, people laughing, speech rehearsing. Disheveled and dirty, I blew it! I’m broke! A sad slave, I’m mocked and maligned.
Jesus runs to me — why? People laugh — at Him! “See the fool!” The crowd mocks Jesus instead of me.
“Forgive me!” As a slave, I throw myself onto Jesus. He smiles at me, “My son!” He looks up to heaven with thanks.
His tears of grief, my tears of regret, become our tears of joy. Embraced, How could it be? Jesus’ Abba is my Abba! His robe, His ring, and sandals, His party — all for me and you! His righteousness, His authority and sonship, His joy — all for me and you!
My brother, my sister, with Jesus you are Abba’s child!
Listen to Soul Talk: 178 – Imagine: Jesus Looks at You With Love
Jesus is eager to speak to you! Ignatian Meditation is a wonderful tool that helps us engage deeper with our Lord. Bill shares his own experience with Ignatian meditation and how God spoke to him through this incredible practice.