The forty days of Lent comprise a long journey that weaves its way through several passages but that arrives at the foot of the cross and at a tomb where a stone has been rolled away. Lent is a long journey home.

Some years ago I read a wonderful novel by Chaim Potok that told the story of a father and his son. Many of Chaim Potok’s novels are centered on the Jewish community in Brooklyn. This particular story begins with a very dedicated and well-known rabbi who wants his son to follow in his footsteps. The father has a dream that his son will become a rabbi.

The son also has a dream but his dream is different from his father’s. The son’s dream is to become a psychologist. As the novel unfolds we are given glimpses into the relationship between the father and the son. We see the love they have for each other but we also see the darkening clouds that stretch their relationship because their dreams diverge. Both for the father and for the son there is an inner struggle pitting their integrity against their love. The father’s hopes for his son are deep-seated. And the son’s desire to be a psychologist is also very deep within him.

Tensions mount as the son finishes high school and goes on to college. The rabbi wants his son to study for the ministry of Torah and Covenant. The son persists in pursuing his dream of helping others through the ministry of psychology. The son achieves his dreams and becomes a psychologist in a distant city where he marries and begins a family. The rabbi is left alone with his unrealized dreams for his son.

The years pass and the father regrets that his strong stand has cost him a relationship with his son. He realizes his loss and wants to open a door. He calls his son, reaching beyond the chasm of pain and the distance of time. He invites his son to come home. The son hesitates as he remembers all the arguments and accusations, all the wrenching that has taken such a toll on him. He says to his father: “I can’t.” The father’s love shines through in his response: “Then come as far as you can and I will come the rest of the way.”

On Good Friday Jesus comes the rest of the way.

Msgr. Jim McNamara

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