Good morning, everyone. It’s always a great joy to be here with you today.
I think it’d be fair to say that we tend to be people of excess. If we look at anything around us in our culture and our society, we see examples of excessive behavior. A lot of it can be very bad. And that can be very good. Perhaps we see the most excessive things right here in the Bay Area when we just encounter just the billions and billions of dollars that are here in this area, right? Why, don’t you go too far to see amazing properties – homes, amazing lifestyles. And yet in just a few blocks away we see tent cities and we see excessive poverty, excessive mental illness, drug addiction.
But yet in our own lives, too, we tend to be excessive in our habits, whether it’s been watching on Netflix a whole weekend, or whether it’s just going out and eating a lot of food, or whether it’s exercising to the extent where we almost hurt ourselves. I definitely will say I’m a person of excess when I really get into something. I really get into it ,and I was reminded of that yesterday and I’m actually feeling it right now, when I went for the first time here surfing with friends of mine and they were teaching me how to do it. ,And I was getting really into it, and I just kept going and going and going for like two straight hours in the water and my friends like, we’ve never seen anyone like stay in the water this morning and try to catch this many waves. I think you’re going to be really hurting. Well, I’m definitely hurting right now.
But we tend to go to extremes. Of course a lot of times. this has disastrous consequences because it can make us neglect other things in our lives when we focus on one thing too much and of course it’s even more disastrous when an excessive behavior becomes an addiction. and of course the scourge of addiction is looking break up families relationships so clearly there’s a lot that’s being done to try to address this need for us to be excessive, and if you go to a bookstore you’ll see a whole slew of books on self-help. If you go online there’s plenty of TED talks and other types of material out there to try to help us understand what it means to live a life of moderation. A life where we were able to keep things more in balance, where we don’t go to extremes.
And clearly I think that the counter value, so to speak, of excessive behavior is this virtue of moderation.Should a person who’s the most moderate are the person who seems to have a very good balance of their life is the most virtuous person there is? And well as excessive as I could be with my retainer at times, I do realize too that I prize the sense of moderation and I can lot of times almost look at myself and say well you know I’m happy that I’m not able to look at particular issues and be too far to the right or too far to the left, that I take a Centrist position on things. So even I look at this whole notion of moderation as being a good.
Now clearly those self-help books and the wholeidea of moderation and balance are definitely not bad things. And clearly they are a good way to prevent destructive behaviors. Yet if we look at the scriptures today we see an emphasis on excess, and we see this and how the prodigal son lives his life. This is a person of great excess. Even his request to have all this money that comes with, that would normally comes with him when his father would die is a very excessive request.
Just think about this for a moment. The son goes to his father and says, “Dad I wish that you were dead, but you’re not, so can I have the stuff that I would get if you were dead?” That’s the request that the son makes his dad. That’s a pretty excessive request. It’s not just like asking to borrow the car for the weekend. That we know darn well that there’s no time, no place, no culture, no family situation where it would been acceptable for a son say to his father, I wish you were dead – let me have what I would have if you were.
But this excessive request is equally matched by an excessive response, where the father just gives him everything. And as the father gives everything in the son takes everything more excessive behavior ends up happening, where everything is then spent excessively on all the different entertainments, amusements and pleasures that still happen today. And then when the sun is excessively spent everything, he is now in the lowest of low positions – excessively working on a farm with swine pigs, which would be the most repulsive to a person of the Jewish faith.
Yet the excessive behavior continues because once the son realizes that he’s really out of luck, he’s in a bad way, he crafts a speech as a way to be able to weasel his way back into the good favor of his father who essentially wish he was dead. And how does the father respond but in equally prodigal way, wasteful way, because the father excessively is looking for his son daily and then excessively gives him everything they could possibly once on his return home.
This is a story of excess, and the question I think we have to ask ourselves is, “is there a place in our lives for excessive behavior. If we tend to be excessive almost naturally and then we try to temper that excessive this by moderation and by trying to live a good balanced life, is there anything about excessive behavior that could actually be a good thing for us to indulge in. And I would say there is, because the one thing that we could never stop doing is come the realization that every single moment and every single situation in every moment that we walk outside or when we wake up in the morning and walk around our house, we have the opportunity to fully embrace God’s presence in our midsts.
Our lives are only in existence because of excess. Because of God’s excessive love for us, every single breath we take is only possible because of God’s excessive love for us, Every situation that we find ourselves in – the most joyful or the most problematic or the most painful – it’s only made possible because of God’s excessive love for us.
But yes we tend to want to be more of the older son. We tend to want to think that clearly the way that God Reveals His love to us is when we do things right I do everything right I’m a good person if I follow the laws of the church then I will receive God’s love. And of course this is not a foreign thing for us to think about because the way of the world is that way. You act well with your parents your parents reward. You have a job you do good at your work your boss rewards you. And we transfer that dynamic into our relationship with God, thinking that God only showers us with blessings and good things and rewards us when we do everything right.
But the reality is that when we do everything wrong is also the time when God reveals the depth of his love to us – the excessive depth of his love for us.
It’s hard not for me to read this gospel and to think about how as much as I would like to kind of cheer on the older son saying this is just simply not fair what the father’s doing. I can’t help but go to the younger son and say I can’t believe how many times I was that younger son. I know darn well that I reject God far more than I say yes to him. Even with the graces of ordination and living in a very churchy world, if you will, and try my best to have a disciplined life and a life of moderation, I know that I resonate more with the younger son.
And it’s by that memory, if you will or just the simple knowledge that I fail that I’m constantly reminded and brought closer to the ongoing mercy and love of God in the present. And that is the way to excessively be able to acknowledge,to know, that it every moment you’re unconditionally loved when we remember the times that we failed. And we were Somehow brought back – we all have memories of when we disappointed a person, and the person extended forgiveness to us we were in a jam and someone got us out of.
And all those human examples reveal to us how God is constantly working with us in the great joy of the confessional. Many times we may think that it’s embarrassing for us to have to go to because we’re good people. We try to do everything right. We follow the teachings of the church we love the Lord in the Eucharist and there’s a sense of being embarrassed going into the confessional. It’s actually, admit it, just who we really are. but that confessional only exists because God is just dying to give us his excessive love anytime we go and come out of that box when we once again or where that were not left alone that this isn’t the end there’s another day there’s a new beginning. there is a mini Resurrection if you will.
So today, as we reflect upon this excessive behavior of God’s love, let us respond equally with an excessive acceptance, and an excessive heart of gratitude, knowing that we’re always wanted, and that we always have a home with God the Father.
May God bless you.