Ancient Parable, Modern Healing

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Every healing is a kind of homecoming. It brings you home to the one and only you - the you that God knows and loves so profoundly. It shows you how perfectly you express your Maker. How complete and spiritual you, and all God's other children, are. Spiritual healing is coming home to a place you never actually left: the sublime, all-forgiving comfort of God's love.

Jesus Christ once told a story, a "parable," about spiritual homecoming (see Luke 15:11-32). Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, called it "the pearl of parables" ("Retrospection and Introspection," Pg. 91). It's about a father with two sons. The father, most people feel, represents God.

To me, the story shows how God welcomes us home, no matter how wrong we've been. It shows that coming home to God isn't a matter of chance. It's inevitable. Because spiritual homecoming rests on the strongest Principle imaginable: God. And His unconditional, irresistible love. Here's what happens (as it might be told today).

The parable

The younger son, whom we could call Jerry, asks his father for his share of the family inheritance. His father gives it to him, and Jerry leaves the country and spends all the money on wild parties. Then a famine sets in, and he nearly starves. Finally, he realizes what he's done and decides to go home and ask his dad for a job.

Well, the dad spots Jerry way off in the distance - and runs out to hug him. Jerry says he doesn't deserve to be his son any longer. But the dad won't listen. He gives Jerry a beautiful new outfit - and a big welcome-home party.

Meanwhile, the older brother (call him Kevin) is furious. He can't understand why his dad would give Jerry a party. So Kevin stays outside and sulks.

But the dad goes out to tell Kevin how much he loves him. And he explains how wonderful it is that Jerry's back home. It's like he's risen from the dead!

The healing

When I was a university teacher, I had a student named Sara. She was brilliant. But she'd disappear for weeks at a time.

One day, after a long absence, she told me she was an alcoholic. She went on binges that lasted for weeks. She'd flunked out of several colleges. I tried to encourage her. But I also told her that, because of the required attendance policy for the course, she'd fail if she missed any more classes. She promised she wouldn't cut class again.

What happened next? Sara disappeared for the rest of the semester. Frankly, I was angry.

Then, minutes before my final grades were due, Sara walked into my office. With a look of triumph on her face, she handed me a huge stack of papers - all the work for the term. It was beautifully done. "I know you have to fail me," she said. "But I just wanted you to have these anyway. It's the least I can do."

In that moment, my anger melted. I realized how sorry Sara was and how terribly much she wanted to make things right. The least I could do was to meet her halfway. With that, I made an extraordinary exception to the attendance policy and gave her a passing grade for the course.

A year and a half later, Sara walked into my office again. She told me that the moment she learned that I'd passed her, her whole life turned around. She never had another drink. And she finished college. "You were the first person who ever believed in me," she said.

I've always felt that Sara was a lot like the younger son in Jesus' parable. And that God's all-forgiving love had drawn her "home." But what I didn't realize until recently was that - at first, anyway - I was a lot like the older son. I'd been sanctimonious and unforgiving. And God's love brought me home to healing, too.

That's the way it is with spiritual homecomings. They're natural, gentle. And they always bring healing. That's because they remind you that you're God's own child. Just like "the pearl of parables" does.

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