The Power of a Parodied Parable

By Pastor Ron Buxton

Every year in Key West, Florida an event is held to honor the late Ernest Hemingway. Basically, men travel from all over the world who both look and dress like the famous author. In fact, the actual event has been going on for almost four decades now–a testament to the popularity of that man and his literary legacy. My article today will borrow from a short story by Hemingway that was actually a “look-alike” essay from the Author of all authors. If you will, it is a parody of a parable. As you read, I think that you will realize why this rendition of Hemingway carries such a transcendent meaning beyond the ink that is printed on paper. The following three paragraphs are an excerpt from that actual short story.

No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed—bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened, blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid, so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal.The advertisement read, “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers!…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

Obviously, Ernest Hemingway wrote this short story as a parody of the parable that Jesus originally taught in Luke chapter 15. It was the parable of the “prodigal son” — for those of you familiar with that passage of Scripture. What is fascinating to me is that this scenario continues to resonate with readers especially today. You see, society has grown more and more distant in what had been its foundational structure. Single parent families are now more the rule rather than the exception. Thus, many social scientists today discount the need for a father at home. But if that is the case, why does the short story from Hemingway and the parable of Jesus resonate so powerfully? Particularly today.

I submit to you that our “emotional” DNA –if you would allow me to use such an analogy–requires that of us. That sentient version of our most basic genetic structure might be called our “Divinely. Nurtured. Awareness.” That’s what makes the story of Paco and his return to his father so precious to us. It’s like we know that that is the way things should be. Maybe not as they presently are, but as they ultimately should be.

Folks, we were “hard-wired” to connect with our Creator. When that relationship is estranged, we are no different than Paco living in the fantasy world of bullfighting. And we are not alone. There are way more than 800 “Pacos” that share this same predicament. But I’m here to tell you that our Father has more than simply placed an ad in the local paper. He incarnated the actual message! The actual words were written in blood, and etched into eternity. The Father has declared: “All is forgiven!” and that He loves us. All we need to do is show up, accept His love, and end that self-imposed estrangement from Him.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here