This poor man lucked out with neither of his sons. He loved them both and they both were goofs. The first was too wild, the second was too rigid and nasty. Neither one appreciated their fathers love. Both tried to exploit him. Whats more he knew they were exploiting him. This is not a story of a prodigal son, but of an indulgent father, indeed of a hyper-indulgent father. Note that he runs to meet the first son and cuts off his phony speech. Note too that he is incredibly patient with the mean-spirited and ungrateful second son. This story is not supposed to provide a model for family life. Rather it tells us that God loves us like the indulgent father, so much that my human standards, hes quite over the top.
read the padre
Once there were two teenagers whose parents went away for the weekend. As some teenagers do, they decided they would have a party. You know the rest. A couple hundred people showed up. They drank all the family liquor, trashed the house, tore up the garden, wrecked the family cars, burned down the garage, smashed the windows in the neighboring homes, rioted when the police came, and even threw beer cans on the rectory lawn (Really!). When the parents came home to find the national guard patrolling their streets, they said to their children, You shouldnt have done that. Why not, said the kids. You went away its your fault, not ours. You should have never trusted us. But the parents love their children so much that they werent angry at them. Thats the way God love us.
This is perhaps the most scandalous story in the Gospels. Many scholars think that it is not part of St. Johns Gospel because it does not quite fit here and does not appear in some of the ancient codexes. It may have been a free floating parable of Jesus which the editor placed in St. Johns gospel, changing it from a parable Jesus told to a story in which Jesus participated because it seemed less scandalous if Jesus was the principle actor. The scandal of course is that Jesus forgives the unpardonable crime of adultery and indeed gives absolution before the sinner confesses.
Once upon a time a man named Dean Acheson who had served in the Roosevelt administration was called back to serve in the Truman administration. A friend of his was Alger Hiss who turned out to have been a highly placed Communist spy in late nineteen thirties and the early nineteen forties. After Hisss conviction on perjury charges, reporters asked Acheson who worked in the State Department (and probably designed the famous Marshal plan which saved Europe from hunger and Communism)what he thought of his friend Hiss now. The son of an Anglican Bishop and a frostly, prickly man, said the famous words, I will not turn my back on Alger Hiss! Immediately the Republicans in Congress branded him as soft on Communism and perhaps a Communist spy. This image stuck in the minds of many Americans, although Acheson was the most determined of Cold Warriors, perhaps indeed the first Cold Warrior. He committed the unpardonable sin of forgiving a traitor who had not even asked forgiveness. Thats what Jesus did.
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