In his short story “Capital of the World,” Ernest Hemingway tells the tale of a Spanish father searching for his son who ran away from home after having a fight with his old man.
The father so badly wants to reconcile with his beloved boy that he places an advertisement in the local newspaper, El Liberal. The advertisement reads, “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven. Love, Papa.”
The next day at noon, arriving at the Hotel Montana, the father is astonished to discover 800 young men named Paco waiting for the embrace of forgiveness.
This story gives a profound insight into the human condition.
We all have a deep hunger for forgiveness. We carry the weight of guilt around. When we inventory our lives; bad decisions, selfish acts, and stupid moves stand out in our mind’s eye. We know that we have spoken angry words and behaved in hurtful ways.
In Clint Eastwood’s mold-breaking Western movie, Unforgiven, there is a moment when a young outlaw, the Schofield Kid, is overcome by the fact that he has just shot a man. Even though the dead man was a nasty character, the young fighter struggles with what he has done.
Finally, through his tears, the Kid appeals to his older, jaded partner, William Munny (played by Eastwood): “I guess he had it coming to him. He sure had it coming to him, didn’t he, Will?”
Silently, Munny thinks over the weeping man’s question; and then, spitting in the dust, the craggy-faced gunslinger growls, “We’ve all got it coming, Kid.”
‘We’ve all got it coming’ is right. “There is no distinction,” writes the apostle Paul, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 22-23).
This is why we all hunger for pardon. We are all “Pacos” yearning to run and find a father who will declare, “All is forgiven.”
Romans 3:22b-24 — There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
I John 1:5-9 — This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light;in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Acts 2:36b-39 — (Peter said), “Be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
My Lord Jesus Christ, you are indeed the Good Shepherd, and I, alas, am a lost and straying sheep. I have fear and anxiety. I would gladly belong to your flock and be with you and have peace in my heart. I hear from your Word that you are as anxious for me as I am for you. I am eager to know how I can come to you to be helped. Come to me, O Lord. Seek me and find me. Help me also to come to you and I will praise you and honor you forever. Amen.