Once in Spain, a father and his young teenage son, “Paco”, had a falling out. After a huge fight, the boy cursed his father and ran away from home to make his own way in the city of Madrid. After a year went by, the father’s heart softened toward his son and he grieved his absence. He set out to go search for Paco and bring him home but he soon learned that it was near an impossible task. Madrid was such a large city that looking for a single boy there was like looking for a needle in a haystack. He spent day and night searching but made no progress. Finally, not knowing what to do, he took out an ad in the local paper before returning home. The ad read:
All is forgiven.
Meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday.
When the fateful day came, Paco’s father took the train to Madrid and walked from the station to the Hotel Montana. When he got there he was stunned by what he saw: a crowd of about 700 young men named “Paco”, each one waiting to be reunited with his father.
There is something at once beautiful and sad about this little parable found in Earnest Hemingway’s short story: “The Capitol of the World.” It describes so perfectly the human condition: one of alienation from our Father, in desperate need of forgiveness. Jesus once said to his disciples, “the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” He urged them to be “fishers of men”, and he told them stories about a shepherd in search of a single lamb and a father waiting by the door. To walk in the way of Jesus is to continually bear an invitation of love and forgiveness to a world of Pacos waiting to come home.
Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…