Learning Father

800px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project
Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”, c.1661-1669

History has few exemplars to be proud of.
The Greeks did well with Priam, at least,
willing to face “iron-hearted,
man-slaying Achilles” for the sake of a son.
My own culture’s replete with absent men,
“bronze Anzacs” taught from birth not to cry.
The Biblical witness, too, leaves something to be desired:
most too busy with wives in multiples to see
sons ganging up on sons, hurling into ditches,
covering many-coloured garments with blood.
Some simply could not hear, over
the chewing of fruit, the sound of the older
saying to the younger brother, “Come for a walk.”
One king learnt too late that all
the years at war, or watching rooftop baths,
did not teach a son to trust or respect his old man.
Only this cry rings out as a lesson: “Absalom,
my son, my son! Would that it were me instead of you.
Absalom, my son, my son. Absalom, my son!”

Perhaps the polygamists, war-mongers and liars
have this to teach us: the insufficiency of one
man of dust to be the all, the end, of the home.
In his frailty and deceit he clears the way
for another tale, another sight:
the wealthy man embracing pig-stained rags,
the fattened calf killed,
the Father’s arms stretched.
This witness alone can teach the twisted tongue
the meaning of our faintly-voiced, “Father.”

Catechism 25

Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
(New City Catechism)

All?
It seems a dream
which never human mind could fathom.
No, I must repay the debt!
the striving self says in the face
of grace too grand, too reckless.

Yet all.
No helpless soul
could fiction up such headlines, nor
could guilt conceive such answer.
All: eternity before and after
sings redemption’s senseless song.

And all
the righteousness
bought on the tree, all glory, reward,
all ledgered out in our false names.
The beggar sits in fortune’s seat;
the Father sprints, arms open.