When Carolina walks back into Jenny’s and Humpty’s lives there is trouble at t’mill. Or rather, at the fairground, at the carousel and the Wonder Wheel. Carolina had previously married a mobster, much to her father’s horror, and against his wise advice. Now Carolina has come running home after going to the police and shopping her husband. Sooner or later the gangsters are bound to come looking for her. But for now, here she is, on her father’s and step-mother’s doorstep. Looking for a home. Asking for forgiveness.
It’s not easy to come limping home after your life has fallen apart, especially if, like Carolina, you left in a blaze of glory. She had glimpsed a life of adventure with her gangster husband, and now the wheels have come off. We probably most of us know something of our plans not working out, and perhaps that enables us to understand and forgive others, when mishaps ambush them.
Peter discovered the extraordinary forgiveness of Jesus after he abandoned his friend and fled into the darkness. Jesus made Peter a good breakfast, gave him loads of free fish and offered him a new start as they walked together, rebuilding their relationship. We are all prodigals in some ways, haring off after our own passions and bright ideas. The danger is that we may turn into big brothers and sisters of the prodigals, refusing to accept our generous God’s celebratory grace, and declining to offer forgiveness… because we have it all right and are justified in our criticism of others. I like to think Peter was different because of his mistakes and the grace he received. I like to think he treated others differently too. If life is about getting everything right then we are all in trouble. If it is about helping each other when trouble strikes, then we all have hope.