All Is Forgiven 20

The Capital of the World, one of Ernest Hemingway’s lesser known short stories, tells the tragic tale of a Spanish bullfighter who never made it into the ring. Nothing strange about that. Futility and Pessimism are always dominant themes in Hemingway’s writing. After reading The Sun Also Rises, I just sat there for a while asking myself, “Does it? Where? Not in this book, it doesn’t.”  At a young age I decided to put down the Hemingway and stick to Calvin and Hobbes instead.

I find it interesting, though, how Hemingway periodically weaves noble Christian themes into his writing, themes like self-sacrifice and forgiveness.

In the Capital of the World, the main character Paco (a typical name in Spain) has a falling out with his father and runs away from home. Determined to find his son and bring him back home, the father searches for him fruitlessly all over Madrid. He eventually becomes desperate and decides to put a short ad in the paper, which reads:

“PACO, MEET ME AT THE HOTEL MONTANA.  NOON TUESDAY.  ALL IS FORGIVEN.  PAPA.”

When Paco’s father arrives at the hotel plaza at noon on Tuesday, he cannot believe his eyes. A squadron of police officers has been dispatched there to control a crowd of 800 young men, all named Paco, all of them looking to reconcile with their father.

Everyone needs forgiveness.

I remember watching an interview on TV a few years ago where U2 lead singer Bono was being asked about his Christian faith. The interviewer was trying to make it sound like Bono was just being counter cultural by openly professing his belief in Jesus Christ. Bono simply answered that “Other people can believe what they want; I believe in forgiveness, Christianity is a religion of forgiveness, and I need that.”

That, I believe, is the message the world needs to hear: Jesus Christ came to forgive us all. For those who are seeking forgiveness, Christ’s message in the Gospel is for you.

All is forgiven.

20 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this Biltrix. To me this post brought forth peace to my soul. That can never be a bad thing! Isn’t it wonderful that our Lord loves us so much, that forgiveness comes to us for the asking, for “all” that we have done? Enjoyed and thanks for sharing. God Bless, SR

    • Thanks, SR. People want to know they are loved. Christ’s forgiveness is a sure sign of his love for us. That forgiveness and that love brings us great peace. God bless!

  2. Amen!
    Biltrix, Ernest Hemingway was an extraordinary writer–not only in style but also in substance. “All is forgiven” is an adoption of the parable of the “prodigal son”.

    Thanks so much for sharing a truly inspiring post. God blesses.

    • Thanks for sharing this insight, Noel.

      Hemingway was a top-class writer, no doubt about it. I thoroughly enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea when I read it in high school and I picked it up since and still found it engaging. My second, and last, Hemingway novel was The Sun Also Rises. That was just a little to much for my young, impressionable mind. Faulkner had a similar effect on me.

      I cannot discount the depth to be found in these authors’ writing. And, true, this story’s essence, “All is forgiven,” hearkens to Jesus’s parable of the “prodigal son,” which we all are. We are all in need of and searching for God’s fatherly love and mercy. What’s more, he is watching and waiting for us to return. At the core of it all is great love and forgiveness. Who could not want to return to the house of such a loving Father?

  3. Sometimes the hardest thing of all is forgiving oneself for something deeply regretted. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that if we are repentant and confess our sins, Our Loving Saviour has forgiven us, the sin(s) are wiped away….. and that should be enough to bring peace to the soul. Unfortunately, as I’ve often noticed in people, many times we find it hard to forgive ourselves, and this nagging regret just doesn’t let go. Would that mindset be the sin of scruples?

    • It sounds more like the sin of dispair. We have to believe that the Holy Spirit has power over our smallness and that with his help we can overcome sin.

      Scruples can follow from this attitude and can contribute to it. Scruples is a distortion of prudence that effects our judgments as far as what constitutes an act of sin, and to what extent. It can be a sign of a malformed conscience or the result of guilt. An experienced spiritual director can help someone who is overly scrupulous to achieve more balance when judging himself and his actions, so that he can receive the peace of soul the Holy Spirit wants for him.

      Thanks for the comment and the question, Kathleen!

      • Thank you so much Father. This answer has been very helpful.
        It would be great if more people, searching for holiness in their lives, were to realise the importance of finding “an experienced spiritual director” to help them in their journey.
        A first cousin of mine, who used to be a deeply troubled man, has completely changed since he started corresponding with a Carmelite nun as his spiritual director.

        And thank you for this wonderful article!
        How hard it is to forgive sometimes when we feel we have been wronged….. but unforgivingness brings so much heartache, as your touching story of the ‘Pacos’ points out!
        And all forgiveness takes really is a good dose of humility, and fixing our hearts on Jesus’s loving words of forgiveness from the Cross.

  4. Could it be that Calvin and Hobbes is in itself a long-running story of reconciliation on a smaller scale? Calvin is always the prodigal in his thoughts, and in what he has done or has failed to do. And readers chuckle (and his mom and dad shrug) keep taking him back with joy. Just a thought. :-)

    • There certainly is something true to your analysis of Calvin and Hobbes and the catharsis we give ourselves by condoning, in a way, his bad boy behavior. Maybe the way we condescend toward Calvin shows how we want to be pardoned for our own antics. It’s an intriguing thought!

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