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Rembrant's Home

When Jesus says: 'Make your home in me as I make mine in you', he offers us an intimate place that we can truly call 'home.'

Home is that place or space where we do not have to be afraid but can let go of our defences and be free, free from worries, free from tensions, free from pressures.

Home is where we can laugh and cry, embrace and dance, sleep long and dream quietly, eat, read, play, watch the fire, listen to music, and be with a friend.

Home is where we can rest and be healed. The word "home" gathers a wide range of feelings and emotions up into one image, the image of a house where it is good to be; the house of love.

But in this world millions of people are homeless because they have been driven from their own towns and countries. In prisons, mental hospitals, refugee camps, in hidden-away city apartments, in nursing homes and overnight shelters we get a glimpse of the homeless of the people of our century.

This homelessness, however, is also visible in much less dramatic ways.

While teaching university students who came from many different states and countries, I was struck by how lonely they were. For many years they live in small rooms, surrounded by strangers, far away from their families and friends. There is little privacy and even less community in their lives.

Mostly, they have no contact with children or elderly people. Seldom do they belong to a welcoming neighbourhood or a supportive faith community, and only very few know families where they can drop in anytime and feel at home. I have come to consider this situation in which thousands of young adults live as 'normal', but when I examine it a little closer it is not hard to understand why so many feel rootless and even lost.

Probably no word better summarises the suffering of our times than the word 'homeless', it reveals one of our deepest and most painful conditions, the condition of not having a sense of belonging, of not having a place where we feel safe, cared for, protected and loved.

The first and most obvious quality of a home is its intimacy.

When we say: 'I do not feel at home here' we express an uneasiness that does not permit intimacy.

When we say: 'I wish I were at home' we express a longing for that intimate place that offers us a sense of belonging.

Even though many people suffer much from conflicts at home, even though suffering finds its roots at home, and even though 'broken homes' are increasingly blamed for crimes and illnesses, the word 'home' continues to carry with it a warm love and remains one of the most evocative symbols for happiness.

The Christian faith even calls us to experience life a 'going home' and death as 'coming home at last'.

In Rembrant's painting of the Prodigal Son we can see a moving expression of that faith.

The loving embrace in which the old father hold his exhausted son affirms our deepest desire for a lasting, intimate home.

Henri Noumen

 • Links to other Catholic Youth Ministry programs.

 • Our Youth Ministry Resources and gospel reflections.

 • Rebeccas Community Youth Ministry Programs.


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Dominic Mapstone B.Soc.Wk
Rebeccas Community

In Christ's love we strive to:
Accept their individuality,
Believe in their worth,
Hope for their future, and
Love them where they are.