“If we do not have peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
In today’s gospel, we meet a young man who is all too relatable. His story at first looks like independence but quickly devolves into punishing isolation.
This depiction of the despair wrought by the myth of self-sufficiency and the selfishness it breeds echoes powerfully in our time. Our culture of white privilege creates and perpetuates this myth by telling us that to need others, to acknowledge disparity in our communities, to work for reconciliation and wholeness is an unforgivable weakness. This broken way of thinking of and being with one another is totally at odds with the triune God who is inherently relational and created each of us in that image.
At his lowest moment, on the brink of starvation, the prodigal son realizes his total dependence on those whose humanity he refused to recognize. As he returns home to beg forgiveness, Jesus reveals to us the joyful inverse of the isolation born from greed and brokenness. Before the son even makes it to the doorstep, his father rushes out to meet him, exuberant and ready to forgive.
It is here where we see that choosing right relationship, recognizing our radical interdependence, opens us to the abundance of God’s love. This love that conquers death on a cross at Easter anxiously awaits our return to community and to wholeness. Will we be brave enough to begin to dismantle the institutionalized racism that we have built, and join the party?
- What are the areas of my life where self-sufficiency keeps me from being in right relationship?
- How can I use my resources to promote community rather than isolation?
- How else does our culture of white privilege and its emphasis on individualism keep me from being in right relationship with God, others, and myself?
Erika Franey is from San Jose, California and received her B.A. in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. She is a Program Coordinator for Jesuit Volunteer Corps and is blessed to accompany JV communities in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.