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The parable of the prodigal dad

By Joseph Cramer, MD

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 21 2013 6:45 p.m. MST

The parable of the prodigal son is the archetype of godly love and filial repentance. But what if there were a parable about a prodigal father?

Imagine for a second that some monk in his tedious, eye-straining work as a scribe in the Dark Ages failed to copy the original text. That is why it is not in the Bible today. The story of the prodigal father was lost until this very moment:

“A certain man had two sons.” Now this man was wealthy. He was a master of many servants and possessed bounteous lands of crops, cattle and a diversified stock portfolio.

The father came to his two sons and said, “Guys, I have been working my whole life providing for you and your mother. Now it is my time to have fun. I deserve it. I am tired of thinking of others. It is my turn. You boys are old enough to manage on your own. Be nice to your mother, I’m out of here.”

He gathered up all his stuff and purchased a plane ticket and took his journey to a far away land. The original Greek could be translated to say that either he rode a Pegasus or, like Icarus, he had wax and feathers, but stayed away from the sun.

There he wasted his substance in riotous living. When he had spent all, including his 401k, and had maxed out his four credit cards, a great famine arose in the land, and he began to be in want.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his enormous, commercial pig farm raising large, white Yorkshire hogs.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the leftovers from the swine: and no man gave unto him.

And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my former estate have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

"I will arise and go to my sons and wife, and will say unto them, Honey, boys, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee three,

"And am no more worthy to be called your father: make me as one of the servants.”

And he arose, and came to his family. But when he was yet a great way off, his youngest son saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

And the Father said unto him, “Son, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and I am no more worthy to be called our dad.”

But the son said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.”

Now the elder son was in his office working on the accounts payables and filling in federal EPA forms when he heard all the commotion.

He went to his younger brother and said, “What the heck is going on?”

His sibling said, “It’s dad; he’s back.”

This is where the parchment fragment becomes indiscernible.

You have to fill in the rest of the story to your own design. This time the dad messes up. Next time it could have been the mother instead. Do godly love and repentance apply to parents?

Moms and dads make mistakes. Sometime they are real doozies. It is particularly tough to admit failings when they are supposed to be the example. Having thrown aside the mantle of patriarch once, the shame of the man makes it difficult to take up the robe even when it is offered. Alternatively, how does a woman become a mom again?

Like all, this newly discovered parable has lessons to teach. What ending would you write?

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