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My friend Jack taught me how to tie flies for fishing. They were always easy to tie, fun to fish, and they worked. In fact, that is how I produce my homilies: they are easy to write, fun to deliver, and they have to work. Anyway, my friend died and he left me something in his will. It was exciting because I had never been in anyone’s will before. No, I didn’t get a car, no property, and I didn’t get a large sum of money. I got fishing hooks and feathers. Why would my friend give me fishing hooks and feathers? Because he knew I wouldn’t sell it to a local fly shop for a few quick bucks. He knew I would really appreciate them and use them. I tie his flies and catch fish with them. Other fishermen see me catching fish and ask me what I am using. I show them Jack’s fly. I tell them it is easy to tie, fun to fish and they work really well. Jack gave me his hooks and feathers so that I would carry on his legacy.

In the ancient world, the most important task for the dad was to give the kids an inheritance. The inheritance assures that the sons and daughters will carry on the legacy of the father.

So here is the story of a young man who asks to have the inheritance. That seems to be a nice thing. The kid, we assume, wants to carry on the father’s legacy. Maybe he wants to get a few more bullocks with extra horsepower, maybe hire more hands for the field, or expand the land. But instead of carrying on the dad’s legacy, he takes off and spends it all. What? Is he not supposed to be using the money to carry on the legacy of the father? The story tells us that he is starving and no money. He returns to the farm. Not because he loves his father, not because he has compassion toward the father who is worried about him. He goes back because there is a farm with food.

The other son also has no compassion. He is not happy when his brother returns, and he has no compassion toward his father suffered the loss of a son. The father, however, has lots of compassion. He hugs the son, gives him new clothes, a ring, slaughters the fatted calf, gives his farm to the other son.

Why does the father show so much compassion to the two sons? Because it is not about the farm. The inheritance that he wants to give the sons is compassion so that they will carry on his legacy. Why compassion? Because it is fun, it is generous. It is a party, music, joy.

We will never know if the two sons carry on the father’s legacy because the story ends. But the story is told for us. Do we, who are sons and daughters, carry on God’s legacy?

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