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An Unforgiven Prodigal Son

An ancient Asian legend tells the story of a man who had a wild and impetuous son. Curtis E. Liens, in The Man with Dirty Hands, says:

The boy became involved with the ruffians of the village who persuaded him to join them in a robbery of his own father's treasury house. After the robbery was over, his friends fled with the stolen treasure and left him to face the guilt of the crime alone. The young man was desperate. He was deserted by his friends, and he had betrayed the trust of his father. But his greatest crime was that he had brought public dishonor on the family name. And, in a culture where ancestors are worshiped and family integrity is a sacred trust, this was the worst wrong of all.
Broken and deeply repentant, he went to his father and begged forgiveness. Graciously, it was granted. The father called all of the members of the family together to celebrate the reconciliation and return of his son. When all had enjoyed the banquet to the fullest, the father stood and lifted his cup of rice wine for a toast. But, as the son drank deeply the contents of his cup, he grabbed his throat and fell lifeless across the table. The son had been poisoned. The father, with ceremonial dignity nodded to the guests. Each in turn graciously and politely bowed to the father as they silently left the banquet hall. All was now put right. The son had paid the price of his pardon with poison. His honor had been restored. The family integrity and honor were reestablished. The unfortunate incident was closed.

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, another father is deeply shamed by his son's wild and reckless behavior. But when that son comes back and begs forgiveness, what a different reaction he gets.

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