Like all of you who are taking this sheltering at home seriously, I am getting a little batty.
So much so that last night, I had a difficult time getting to sleep. I kept thinking about The Prodigal Son, and I was tempted to get up and write a blog in the middle of my insomnia.
All day long, I thought about not writing anything about what kept me up all night long. But, having just finished dinner, I thought I really should.
The parable of the Prodigal Son remains my favorite parable as it clearly encapsulates what it means to be a good person.
We see a son who, by all accounts, was a scoundrel. He took his share of his father’s money and lived a life of debauchery. He drank to excess and womanized and just squandered all his father’s money to the point that he was penniless and homeless.
When he finally had reached rock bottom, the Son had an epiphany.
He realized that even the lowliest of his father’s servants had a roof over his head and food to eat. So, he travels back to his home to beg his father to let him live with the servants.
The father got word that the son was on his way back, and he was beside himself with joy.
He told his servants to put a celebration together and to prepare the fatted calf for the feast.
There’s another brother who never did anything but work hard for his father, and he was a little miffed at all the hubbub being made for his drunk of a brother.
The father explained that he was rejoicing because his son, who was dead is now alive. He was lost and is now found.
Ok, well, that’s the gist of the parable, but I think there is something more for us today.
The father threw the party for HIM. HE was dead and was given new life because his son was coming home. By forgiving his son, who was a lazy lout, the father was able to celebrate and rejoice. Forgiveness made the Father a new man.
By forgiving his son, by giving his son a celebration, the father received a much more powerful gift.
We experience this every Christmas.
When I was a kid, I may have been nine years old, my father and mother picked me up after school. This was unusual. My father was never home that early, and it was only a few blocks for me to walk home. Anyway, they were waiting for me, and as I got in the car, my father gave me a kinda deke. He nodded to the back seat where on the floor lay a box with big letters LIONEL TRAINS.
It wasn’t even Halloween, and he was giving me a set of trains. Now, another father would have tucked that box away and saved it for Christmas. Not my father. He couldn’t wait.
I never fully appreciated why until I saw A Christmas Story.
In the movie, the father is a boisterous Old Man whose greatest characteristic is mastering the art of cursing. Of course, in the movie, he employs the WC Fields technique of substituting nonsense words that cannot help but be understood for profanity.
Anyway, we follow Ralphie try to ensure that this Christmas, he will receive a Red Rider BB Gun. His mother thinks he will shoot his eye out, so blurting his wish out at breakfast failed. His composition detailing what he wanted for Christmas also failed as his teacher echoed his mother’s “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Finally, even Santa disappoints.
But it is his father who comes through in the end.
To me, the whole movie revolves around one scene. It’s the look that Ralphie’s father has when Ralphie is opening his BB gun.
If you are only a decent Dad, you’ve had that look as your son or daughter opened their gifts.
Again, it is the giving that provides the ultimate joy.
Hoarding our wealth does nothing but make us miserable…miserly…a miser.
So what does this all have to do with Looking Forward?
We have to do a better job of creating essential access to essential commodities. It’s not enough to rely on market philosophies that put burdens on the least of us.
Food and shelter. Water and healthcare. Education and security from harm. These are things that we shouldn’t dole out to only the worthy amongst us. How ironic that many of our essential workers actually have the least access to these essential commodities?
America needs a Marshall Plan. We need to take care of those who have the least, and while it will be lifesaving to these people, it will be life-changing to us.
Get over the blue state red state thing. Don’t let politicians divide us.
To suggest that only certain people in certain states deserve our love is despicable.
We’re better than that America.
If you don’t want to read the bible and learn about the Prodigal Son, at least YouTube A Christmas Story.