I have to admit one of the coolest, most legit characters I have ever read about or heard about for that matter because I know I heard about him before I read about him is the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Now before I move forward with this post a bit of a disclaimer on moi. . . I’m not a Bible-thumper, nor do I praise the Lord out loud at every waking minute. Instead, I grew up an Irish Catholic kid from the suburbs that went to parochial schools all the way through high school- which was a Jesuit high school by the way. I majored in history at a state college in the south and took a few theology courses as well while I was there. I know enough about the Bible but not enough to make mainstream run-of-the-mill folk feel awkward if you know what I mean. I don’t lead with my faith or dogma at every chance, it is far more personal for me in that sense. I don’t know Bible verses, I swear way too much and I’m not batting anywhere close to a thousand when it comes to the Ten Commandments. That said, definitely no murder or adultery. But yet on the other hand I also have named this blog site after ANOTHER Bible account. To this day I consider myself culturally Catholic with all its guilt trips as well as trappings and I go to church on an inconsistent basis. I can have an intellectual conversation on religion and recognize the substantial role Christianity has played in western civilization. Finally too, I have real issues to put it mildly with the institutional aspect of the Catholic Church; its handling of sexual abuse cases and covering up for pedophilia clergy for example. I’m basically a Catholic kid that grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sweet…got that out of the way. . .for me… for my insecurities I guess. . .not for you. . .not for yours.
Now back to the parable of the Prodigal Son. Here’s why the father is total kingpin in my book. As soon as he sees his younger son return and approach his property he rushes out to hug him. There is no equivocation whatsoever. The younger son, who got an advance on his inheritance from his father returned after going away for a time with not a penny to his name because he squandered it all on various vices. He came back embarrassed and ashamed telling his father . . .”I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” The comment did not even register with the old man who gives his son a big hug. Instead the father wants to celebrate and party. . .”bring the fattened calf and kill it. . .let’s have a feast and celebrate. . .this son of mine. . .was lost and is found.”
So here’s my thing. If before they celebrated and partied the father said to the younger son “You know you REALLY screwed up. . .glad your back BUT. . .or said, I don’t know if I can trust your decision-making for a time moving forward. . .” If he went one of those routes before celebrating let’s face it that parable would still be pretty damn sweet. It would still have a good message attached to it. But the father didn’t. And that makes him a legendary character to me. A true fatherly giant. That’s where the juice is for me. How easy would it have been to make it some afterschool special teachable moment?! For the father to put in his two cents. Dude didn’t and that’s why he rocks. The being silent is deafening.
In fact he shares his verbal lesson for the older brother who is all righteous about doing what is expected of himself and all bent the father is letting his brother off easy. . .to the older brother he’s like “what is mine is yours but this brother of yours was dead. . .we have to celebrate.”
Let’s face it everyone is guilty of it. We all want to share and verbalize our frustration, anger and disappointment with the people that have brought us pain, anxiety and suffering be they friends or especially family. Most people never pass up an opportunity in this manner. Perhaps it is only natural. But sometimes maybe we should just shut up and listen with our heart. Recognize that in certain moments with certain people moving forward with little to nothing being said beyond our actions is the best way, the most meaningful way and the most loving way.