an article by Cristina Lledo Gomez

During COVID lockdowns, I didn’t get to visit my dad for six months. When I finally did, his first reaction in seeing me was to cry endless tears of joy, to reach out to me, and to not let go of my hand as I kissed him on his forehead and told him I loved him and missed him many times. Any of the hurts that I had held against my dad from decades of being disappointed by him melted away at that moment, because all that seemed to matter was my reconciliation with him, how much I loved and missed him and how much he loved and missed me.

As a Christian, this story reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Father from the Book of Luke 15:11-32. The Prodigal Father is more commonly known as the Prodigal Son because the focus was on the son who recklessly spent his inheritance and yet was embraced by his father on his return. I think it is more appropriately named the Prodigal Father because the focus is not on the faults or weaknesses of the son, but rather the love of the father, a love that is recklessly abundant and unconditional -- and also, the love between the father and the son, a bond that cannot be broken despite hurts and disappointments within the relationship. It is as Pink sings with Nate Ruess in their award-winning song from 2012:

“We’re not broken just bent and we can learn to love again”.

I want to tell you though that since our reconciliation, my father and I have not had a similar encounter. And maybe it has to do with his dementia and ever deteriorating mind. This is OK with me because I had my moment with him which was enough to allay deep fears that I was not loved or lovable by him. Mother Teresa once said that:

“… being unwanted, unloved, un-cared for, forgotten by everybody is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”.

Love has the power to heal us, because it restores the broken connections we have with ourselves, each other, and God. Jesus’ life, cross, death, and resurrection for Christians was God’s prodigal embrace of humanity to tell them they are absolutely loved and lovable. May you experience God’s prodigal embrace in the everyday during this Easter season and find reconciliation with those you deeply love.

Dr Cristina Lledo Gomez is the Pastoral Associate (Staff) at North Sydney campus, Adjunct Lecturer for the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and also teaches Core Curriculum. On the days she is not at ACU, she is the Presentation Sisters' lecturer at BBI - The Australian Institute of Theological Education, and a Religion and Society research fellow for Charles Sturt University’s Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre (PACT). Cristina is a Filipina-Australian, is married to Adrian and has two children, Sophia and Julian, and a very cute cat called Evie. She likes to run, dance, knit, paint, sew, sing, and binge-watch Netflix.

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