On a hot September, 2004 Tuesday afternoon, Lucy Santos, 16 years old, entered my office to tearfully tell me she had committed so many sins in her young life that she was absolutely certain God did not love her unconditionally as she had overheard me mention the love of God to a troubled young man a week before. “If only God would show me in some way that He loves me,” she said with emotion, “I would feel so much better and I would be at peace.”
God has given her a sign I told her. Taking my rosary out of my pocket, I showed her a small plastic crucifix with the person of Jesus Christ. “There—this is your sign. This is God's universal statement to everyone His total, unconditional love for everyone then, now and for all times. There are no sins too great or so bad that will make God not love you.”
Jesus’ most profound parable of compassion, mercy, unconditional love and forgiveness is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Image how broken the father’s heart when his son takes his inheritance, leaves homes and proceeds to live a scandalous, lustful, sinful life. This father knows full well what his son will do with his share of the inheritance but he does nothing to try to change his wayward son’s youthful disobedient mind. Now picture the father day after day, month after month keeping a hopeful eye on the horizon, never giving up on his son. Perhaps, he thought, this will be the day he will return home.
Then one day it happens! The father sees a lone figure slowly walking towards the house on the far horizon. The figure’s walking gait is familiar to him. Not wanting to be disappointed the father waits with nervous anticipation to determine if the figure is indeed his long, lost son. The father’s heart begins to beat faster. Is it? The father stops what he is doing, shields his eyes and focuses his total attention on the figure. Yes! Yes, it is my son! He has come home! Dropping everything, the father runs as fast as his legs will permit. While the disobedient son tries to ask his father to forgive him, he is unable to verbally admit to his father his selfish sins and wasteful living. Rather than punish and disinherit the wayward son, the father re-establishes the son to full favor and gives him back his inheritance with his family.
Jesus, by His words and cruel, painful death on a cross proves His everlasting, unconditional love for Lucy and every person who desires forgiveness and to be one with God is re-established and given full inheritance to their Father's kingdom. No one has to spend time looking for little hints or examples that God loves her or him when we have the big sign that applies to each person equally. When you feel unloved, unwanted or hated, look at the cross and ask “why?” and for “whom”. The answer is very, very clear—For the unconditional love of you and every one. No one needs any additional sign that God’s love for humankind is unconditional and genuine.
There are so many that believe they have exceeded in sin what mercy can cover. I know you don't use people's real names, but I feel "Lucy's" fear because I've worn those uncomfortable shoes. But, oh, oh, when the full knowledge of His perfect love sinks in, how beautiful is the walk of one who is forgiven much and loves much! How beautiful is the Spirit of God in their lives! Thank you for sharing "Lucy" with us.