By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter
Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer and journalist. He once wrote a short story titled The Capital of the World. In it he told the story of a father and his teenage son who were estranged from one another. The son’s name was Paco. He had wronged his father. Thus, in his shame, he had run away from home.
In the story, the father searched all over Spain for Paco, but still he could not find the boy. Finally, in the city of Madrid, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father placed an ad in the daily newspaper. The ad read: “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana. Noon Tuesday. All is forgiven. Papa.”
The father in Hemingway’s story prayed that the boy would see the ad, and then maybe, just maybe, he would come to the Hotel Montana. On Tuesday, at noon, the father arrived at the hotel. When he did, he could not believe his eyes.
An entire squadron of police officers had been called out to keep order among 800 young boys. It turned out that each one of them said his name was Paco, and each one of them had come to meet his father and find forgiveness in front of the Hotel Montana.
This beautiful story illustrates the great truth that Jesus was driving at in his famed “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Just as there are many, many Pacos in Hemingway’s story, so there are innumerable prodigals in the world.
Think about reaching out to our heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness, because we are not worthy to be called “his son or daughter.” When God forgives us in the sacrament of reconciliation, he will tell us, “Welcome home. Everything I have is yours!”
Paco, I hope you will come home to the Father. I hope you will know the peace and joy that comes with having been forgiven by God. If not, the Father’s invitation to come home still stands. Even now, he is waiting for you.
Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix for Siouxland, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.