Put simply, Lent’s message is this: an invitation to take a good look at where we are at in our lives, and so return in a spirit of repentance  to the Father of compassion and mercy. 

My favourite piece of scripture is the Parable of the Prodigal Son and I believe that if Jesus had only spoken to us for three minutes rather than three years this parable would have been enough, capturing as it does, not just the spirit of Lent,  but also the essence of what he had to tell us.

God is not a person we should fear but whose love for us far exceeds our expectations. Last Sunday being Mother’s Day I thought I would combine these two themes with the imaginary letter below:

"Dear son,

"We got your address from your cousin Isaac.  He didn’t go into any great detail about your job situation and lifestyle – didn’t want to upset your father even more.

"Actually your father doesn’t even know I am writing this.  Ah, but it being Mother’s Day and seeing all the other families together there’s that ache in my heart where you used to be.

"As for your father – well,  he’s just not the same man since you headed off in such as hurry.   He gets up early to head out pretending he has to go and count the cattle.

"But I know it’s really to look down the road hoping that he might get a glimpse you coming in the distance. I see the tears in his disappointed eyes when he returns.  It’s not the bad price of cattle that has him so upset. He misses you so much. You know, you men are a strange lot, you feel deeply but you won’t express it. But I do know this - he was, and still is awfully proud of you.

"Now  he may not have shown it too much as you grew up nor did he ever say it but he really loves you. I am certain of that. Did I ever tell you about the day you were born; he was so excited with a smile the length of the barn door.

"Son, if you feel like coming home we won’t say anything cross to you.  If Isaac’s report is correct you’ve suffered enough.  You don’t have to earn our love – you have that already.

"I won’t plead with you to come home – that must be your decision.  But if you do come, it would be the greatest gift you could ever give us.

"With all our love, your mammy"

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