The three young men stared at their father, not truly believing the words they had just heard. Being mindful of their flushed faces, the father softly repeated, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.”
“What do you mean, ‘if we love you’?, the eldest began, indignation oozing out between every syllable. “How can you possibly doubt my love for you? I spend hours each day studying every word you have ever written. No-one can possibly know your precepts the way I do. I have even added my own appendix to your work, so that others may gain the same understanding that I have. And now you say ‘if you love me’!”
The father looked down and smiled, “Put aside your learning and your books. Show my people compassion.”
Horrified, the eldest son grimaced, “Put aside my books and my learning? The people need to be taught wisdom and understanding. I give them this knowledge. There is little need for compassion.”
He walked away. Disillusioned. Alone.
The middle son also peevishly reproached his father. “I too have shown my love for you by studying.” he rankled, “I have written many songs motivating others to sing and rejoice. Through me the people have been set free to clap their hands, dance and shout ‘Hallelujah‘. How can you say ’if we love you’?”
The father looked down and smiled, “Lay aside your musical instruments, your dancing and singing, hand clapping and hallelujah shouting. Listen to the heart of my people.”
The middle son looked at his father in disgust, “Listen to the people!” he spat with loathing, “Their cries are tainted by hunger and poverty, destruction and war. I cannot create beautiful melodies amidst a cacophony haunted by misery and pain?” Turning slowly, he too walked away. Disillusioned. Alone.
The youngest son trembled before his father, tears staining his cheeks. Falling to his knees he whispered, “What can I do?”
The father looked down and smiled, “Go and tell my people I love them.”
For a moment the youngest son hung his head low, thinking of all his own inadequacies. Then, with quiet longing, he raised his eyes to gaze in awe at his father. “Will you come with me?”
Reaching down, the father took his youngest son by the hand.
They walked away. Rejoicing.
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