The Divorce Party

Once there was a happily married man and woman who lived in a small village. For years they prayed to God to provide them a child and, try as they might, it never happened for them. This made the man very sad. So sad, that he went one day to the Rabbi and asked for a certificate of divorce so that he could marry a woman who would be able to bear him children.

The Rabbi was a wise man and he knew that this request, if granted, would only lead to further unhappiness but custom dictated that the man’s request shouldn’t be denied. The Rabbi thought for a second and then said, “I will grant you your request but under one condition. You and your wife have spent 10 years together and that is something to be celebrated. Please, go celebrate your divorce as you would a wedding. Throw a party in honor of the time you two have spent together and the next day, I will grant you your certificate of divorce.”

The man actually thought this sounded like a wonderful idea so he set to work at once making the preparations. He invited all of their friends and family, got the finest wine, and the best food then, a few nights later, the celebration was had!

It was a splendid party. There was music and lively company, and the man’s wife was as beautiful as he had ever seen her in a brand new gown. Towards the end of the evening, the man, full of wine, was so favorably disposed that he announced to the woman in front of everybody, “My darling wife of ten years, though we part I do not want you to think I am not still fond of you. Ask for anything in this home and it shall be yours. Choose whichever of my possessions is most precious to you and take it home with you to your father’s house!”

The man’s wife smiled and accepted the offer. That was the last thing the man clearly remembered before passing out. When he awoke, he was lying in a strange bed. Startled, he ran down the stairs and there at a table sat his wife and her parents eating breakfast.

The man suddenly recognized where he was. Confused, he asked, “Did I get so drunk last night that I staggered to your former home?”

The man’s wife laughed. “No dear, last night at the party you invited me to take home the thing in the house that was most precious to me. So I had your friends carry you and put you in my bed.”

Suddenly the man came to his senses and realized how deep his wife’s love was for him and he could feel his own love deepening for her in his heart. He resolved not to go see the Rabbi for the certificate of divorce after all. And it was just as well because the Rabbi wasn’t really expecting him.

It’s been said that marriage is a union between two forgivers. In any relationship, we can make rash decisions and it is a true loving partner that reminds us of what is really precious. Love is based on honoring and cherishing the other person no matter whether they can provide you with what you think will make you happy or not. For those who walk in the way of Jesus, there may be another message in this parable as well. It is people, not goals, that are precious. The mission of the Church should never reduce beloved children of God to mere means to meet an end. We are called to focus our love and attention to human beings regardless of their imperfections or what they can or cannot provide, simply because they are made in the image of God. In life as in marriage, the secret to happiness is forgiveness and grace

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

Dear Paco


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:

“Dear Paco,
All is forgiven.
Meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday.
Love, Papa.”

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…

The Unmerciful Servant


Once Jesus was asked by one of his disciples how many times the law required him to forgive his brother. “Should I forgive seven times?” he asked.

Jesus replied, “Not seven times, but seventy seven times.”

To explain this teaching, he told a parable:

The Kingdom of God is like a king who decided to settle all of his accounts. One by one, he brought his servants before him and demanded the money that they owed him. One servant was brought before him who owed him 10,000 bags of gold. The man could not pay so the king ordered that his home and all of his possessions be sold and that he and his entire family, be sold into slavery to pay the debt. The servant fell before the king, kissed his feet, and begged for mercy.

“Please, O wise and just King, show patience with me and I will pay back everything I owe you!”

The king was moved with compassion and, realizing the money was more than he could possibly pay back in a lifetime, forgave the debt.

As the servant was leaving, he spotted another fellow servant who owed him a bag of silver. He angrily grabbed the man by the throat and yelled, “Pay me back what you owe me!” His fellow servant fell down on his knees and pleaded with him.

“Give me just a little more time,” he begged, “and I’ll pay you back.”

The servant refused and took his case before the judge and had the man thrown in prison until he was able to pay the debt. This shocked all of the servants who promptly reported it to the king. This made the king absolutely furious so that he summoned the man before him and said to him, ” You wicked servant! You begged me for mercy and I forgave your great debt! Shouldn’t you have forgiven your fellow servant for the pittance he owed you?” Then he called his guards and demanded they throw the man in the dungeon and have him tortured until he payed off his entire debt.

Judaism, as well as Christianity, teaches the value of forgiveness. What was at issue for the disciple, was how many times he should forgive someone who consciously hurt him. Some rabbis taught that after three times, you were off the hook. Others taught seven. According to Jesus, we’re never off the hook for forgiveness. As this challenging parable demonstrates, forgiveness is not just a matter between you and your fellow servant, it is a matter between you and your King. When we weigh our sins against God against others sins against us, we are weighing 10,000 bags of gold against a sack of silver. This is a hard teaching but it is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple walking in the way of Jesus. When we pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debters”, we are entering into a contract. This contract comes with a promise of grace though. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” 

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…