magnanimous musings

I would like to share with all of you weekly some thoughts on the Scriptures as to how they can open for us the way to move from pusillanimity (smallness of soul) to magnanimity (largeness of soul) in our spiritual journey. I have entitled this column Magnanimous Musings. 

 – Fr. John Robert Skeldon, Parochial Vicar of St. Patrick Cathedral


A man had two sons.... So begins perhaps the most famous and beloved of the parables of Jesus, one that is so rich it has different names depending on what is being emphasized: the prodigal son, the lost sons, the two brothers, the generous father, the prodigal father, God....

So many themes could be teased out from this parable that occurs in the 15th chapter of Luke's gospel, a chapter that is often called the "gospel within the gospel." One theme will do for this reflection though: God is always with the lost.

The parabolic father longingly looks down the road for the return of his lost younger son and runs to him--a most un-patriarchal activity--when he catches the very first glimpse of him. The parabolic father at the end of the story comes out of the festivities inside the house celebrating the return of his lost younger son and pleads with his lost older son to come inside. That is how the story ends: the father is with the son who is lost.

The father is always with the son who is lost. The younger son had been lost in his greedy, pusillanimous ego; the older son is lost in his bitter, pusillanimous ego. The father is always with the one who is lost. God is always with the son or daughter who is lost. He will not go back inside to the celebration until he exhausts his pleas of loving magnanimity, until he has caught sight of the first stirrings of return of his wayward children even far down the road...which means he won't go back inside. Because the story ends with the father (God) pleading with his lost son. God is always with the lost.

A beautiful reflection I found is the story about a Jesuit priest, Fr. Greg Boyle, who works in the heart of the gang world in Los Angeles. Entitled Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, there is this gem:

All Jesus asks is, Where are you standing? And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, "Are you still standing there?" Can we stay faithful and persistent in our fidelity even when things seem not to succeed? I suppose Jesus could have chosen a strategy that worked better (evidence-based outcomes) -- that didn't end in the Cross -- but he couldn't find a strategy more soaked with fidelity than the one he embraced. You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship.

God stands with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. A man had two sons.... God is always with the lost...all of us.


About Fr. john robert

FR. JOHN ROBERT SKELDON (he goes by Fr. John Robert) is rector of St. Patrick Cathedral.  He came to St. Patrick's from St. Bartholomew's on the south side of Fort Worth where he served as pastor for two years.  

Originally from San Antonio, Fr. John Robert moved to the DFW area when he was 15 and finished high school at Trinity High School in Euless (1991). His home parish was St. Michael's in Bedford. After his freshman year in college, he entered seminary for the diocese of Fort Worth at Holy Trinity Seminary while obtaining his BA in philosophy from the University of Dallas (1995). He then pursued graduate theological studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, obtaining his MDiv in 2000. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fort Worth by the late Bishop Joseph Delaney on May 27, 2000.

Over his 16 years of priesthood, he has served as a parochial vicar at St. Matthew's in Arlington, St. John the Apostle in North Richland Hills and St. Michael's in Bedford. He was briefly administrator for St. Jude's in Mansfield and his first pastorate was at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wichita Falls (2007-2011).


In 2011 he went back to school, studying biblical theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was there for 2 1/2 years before coming back to the diocese. He was briefly in residence at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Grapevine before being assigned as pastor to St. Bartholomew.

Fr. John Robert has a passion for teaching adults theology, in particular the Bible. He loves literature, the symphony, fishing, movies and his two cats Adeodatus and Portia. He is very happy to be coming to serve God's people at St. Patrick's Cathedral.