Reading: Conclusion: Becoming the Father
We’ve been on quite a journey together over the last few weeks! We’ve looked at the younger son in us, the ways we leave home, and the truth of our sonship/daughtership which draws us home again in true repentance. We’ve explore the elder son in us, the call to liberation from resentments, and the invitation to the disciplines of trust and gratitude. We’ve meditated on the depth of the Father’s love for us, and the unconditional love that invites us to joy in Him. In this final stage of the journey Henri invites us to consider the call to become like the Father, which is perhaps the most challenging of all.
1) Henri writes, “…I came to realize that my spiritual journey would never be complete as long as the Father remained an outsider…” (p 121)
a) Do you see the Father as an “outsider” on your spiritual journey?
2) “Perhaps the most radical statement Jesus ever made is: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.’ … becoming the compassionate Father is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life…” (p 115)
a) Have you ever considered this before? What is your immediate reaction?
b) How can you become the compassionate Father for those in your life?
c) Has this Lenten discussion offered any new insights that may assist you?
d) How does the life of Jesus lead you to move toward becoming the compassionate Father?
3) Henri helps us to understand that becoming like the Father includes releasing all the ways we look for approval from others, and is instead to “dare to stretch out my own hands in blessing and to receive with ultimate compassion my children, regardless of how they feel or think about me” (p117).
a) How do you understand this challenge in your own life?
b) How would it change the way you interact with those around you?
4) Henri draws a distinction between the authority of power and the authority of compassion (see p120).
a) Have you ever known someone who lived with the authority of compassion?
b) What was it like to be around that person? What did authority of compassion look like?
5) Finally, Henri offers us “three ways to a truly compassionate fatherhood: grief, forgiveness and generosity” p120. “Grief, forgiveness, and generosity are, then, the three ways by which the image of the Father can grow in me. They are three aspects of the Father’s call to be home” (p123).
a) Why do you think grief, forgiveness and generosity are the ways to a truly compassionate fatherhood?
b) Towards the end of the chapter Henri reminds us that this transformation is the work of God as much as any other spiritual transformation we go through, so how might we open ourselves to His work in these areas?
We very much look forward to hearing from each of you this week. Your honest reflections are an encouragement to both of us, and to all who are journeying with us this Lent.
Ray and Brynn