Day 12 Unconditional

So he got up and went back to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.  He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you: I no longer deserve to be called you son.’ 
But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Take the fatted calf and slaughter it.  Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was lost, and has been found.’  Then the celebration began.
   ~Luke 15

 I keep thinking about unconditional love.  In the recent death of my father, I believe I have lost the one person who loved me unconditionally.   Don’t we all long to be loved without the usual boundaries?  What a bewitching concept: to be forgiven, applauded and admired long after everyone else has grown bored or disenchanted.  Furthermore, do we not wish to love our spouse/child/parent free from all the predictable limitations?  And is our love for others not front and backloaded with expectations and requirements?  What  is “unconditional love?”  And does it really exist?  Jesus appeared to love those around him without condition.  He could be impatient with his companions and he was ready to scold those whose behavior was contemptuous but he appeared willing to extend sincere love and perspective to everyone with whom he came in contact.  In his parable, Jesus uses the Prodigal Father as an illustration of God’s unconditional connection with human beings.  In spite of being ignored and used, the Father is willing to forgive, embrace and renew relationships in spite of the ugliness of past decisions.

So how do we get to THAT place?  That place where the love we have for our family and friends transcends pettiness, competition and disillusionment?  Vera Nazarian, in her book The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, writes that there are three requirements for unconditional love: “Acceptance,” “Understanding” and “Appreciation.”  Those are some heavy duty words—beautiful to read and ponder when one is sipping tea and gazing into an imaginary fireplace—but rather cumbersome when one is attempting to refinance a long term mortgage and navigate a gridlocked freeway!  However, what if I were to write those magic words in the palm of my hand, on sticky notes placed upon the bathroom mirror, as screen savers for the computer?  If I were to consider the qualities of acceptance, understanding and appreciation throughout my day, I cannot help but wonder if there might gradually be an infiltration of these qualities into my everyday life?  And if these characteristics began to manifest themselves more frequently in my thoughts and speech would I not find myself possessing more friendship, more support and a greater depth of love in my life?  And while not unconditional, (we may only get one or two of those in a lifetime) anything that cultivates the lifelong goal of loving and being loved is a worthwhile effort….don’t you agree?

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3 Responses to Day 12 Unconditional

  1. Brenda Sorensen says:

    I have always loved this story (of the Prodigal Son) ever since the days of the Children’s Mass Gospel Drama! I think of it often and have referred to it on numerous occasions with my children.

  2. Wm. "Gus" Gocella says:

    Father Matt, During my lifetime, especially as a young boy, I felt underserving of my parents love because I failed them and God. But like Jesus, their love was unconditional, with acceptance, understanding, and appreciation being their son and knowing I was sorry for my transgressions. In later years, I confided in my Mother and discussed some of my christian failures with her over coffee and she would comment…”I Know”,… much to my surprise. These gifts allowed a great relationship in my young life and into adulthood. The gifts insprired by the Holy Spirit and given us with the Sacrament of Confirmation and continue throughout our lives allowing us to love and be loved as Jesus intended. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Loving, Unconditionally | Dina Delicce

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