An Asian-American man writes this story:
In the mid 90’s my Mom and Dad, my younger Brother and Sister and I, came to the U.S. from Asia. Once we got here, it took awhile for us to get settled and learn the language, but our parents tried hard to give us a sense of “home” in this new land.
They were strict with all of us, but we respected our parents. One of the most important things that they were concerned about was that we learned to have a strong Catholic faith. The second, that we did our best in school. Along with these things was the constant reminder that we should never do anything to shame the family. And no matter what the other kids or other families thought, we were to be respectful—-never use bad language, and follow the teachings of Christ.
My parents told us that our grandparents were Catholics. They had to suffer much for what they believed, in a land were it was dangerous to even be a Catholic.
During my senior year in high school, unknown to both my parents, I got involved in things that eventually brought trouble into my life. I knew that these things were sinful, but I did them anyway.
One Friday night, I was arrested for rowdy behavior and drunkenness along with the other guys I was hanging around with. One of my friends started to give the police a hard time, and so we were handcuffed. They started checking the car, not just for alcohol, but for drugs, too.
We were taken to the police station and our parents were called. That’s when things got real quiet. I was still intoxicated and wasn’t looking too good. I prayed that it would only be my father who would come to get me; that he’d pay the bail and get me out of there. I didn’t want my mother to see me like this. The other parents came in first and made their anger known to their sons good and loud for all to hear.
When my father came in, he said nothing to me, but the look on his face killed me. I could see that he was so ashamed. I didn’t know what to say to him, so I just put my head down. Then it hit me what I’d done. I brought shame to my family and caused my father great pain. Realizing this, I just broke down and cried. I hadn’t done that in a long time.
My father paid the bail, and we started toward the parking lot. At this point I wasn’t even thinking about the legal consequences of what had just happened, I was more worried about having to face my mother. I had hurt the people I had loved and respected all my life.
When we got home nothing was said to me. There was no yelling, or anything of that sort. My mother just had the same look that my father had, and I was devastated.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson, and nothing like that ever happened again. But there was always that sense of regret in my heart for what I had done.
Many years after that incident, after my own marriage and becoming a parent with three children, I received a call to come to my parents’ house—-my mother had died.
After the funeral, when it came time to say goodbye to my father, he said to me, “Your mother loved you very much, and so do I.” With tears in my eyes I said, “That’s the one thing I knew I could count on.” We hugged and parted. They were the most memorable words my father ever spoke to me, and as it turned out, the last words he would ever say to me.
That young man is you and me. The father is God. We can say that we are good people as many times as we want, but we still need Christ to rescue us and save us from our sin—-from our bad decisions. This is really what is at the heart of the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s about being forgiven when we have sinned and broken the trust. The Asian boy had broken the trust of his family. When we sin we break the trust between God and ourselves.
Yet the Father’s love is constant, and Jesus leads us back to the Father who deeply loves us. There are times in life when we need a second chance. And because of that great love, we get another chance.
In this life we need to say that we are sorry for our sins—-to repent. When we die, we will stand before the presence of God and our lives on earth will be brought before us. It is Christ who will save us from death. So, remember, no matter how many times we have sinned, no matter what we have done, when we say we are sorry, we are offered forgiveness.
As we continue this Lenten journey, remember the Cross. Turn to Jesus who rescues us and saves us from our sins.