In the summer of 1936, American author, Ernest Hemingway, was working as a journalist in Madrid, Spain for the newspaper, El Liberal. On Father’s Day of that year, the paper published one of Hemingway’s first short stories, titled “The Horns of the Bull.” Typical of many of Hemingway’s works, the subject matter of the story was not what the story was really about. This short story was set in a run-down hotel serving a bunch of revolutionaries and second-rate bullfighters. But the story was really about a young waiter, named Paco, who recently hired on at the hotel.
You see, Paco dreamed of being a bull fighter. But he had a very angry argument with his wealthy father over it, and Paco ran away from home. His father was crushed. When many days went by and Paco did not return home, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father put an ad in the Madrid newspaper. The ad read, “Dear Paco, Meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven. I love you. Signed, Your Father.
Several hundred young men and boys, all named Paco, showed up, each hoping it was his father offering him love and forgiveness.
Well as the story went, on Tuesday, in the lobby of the Hotel Montana, several hundred young men and boys, all named Paco, showed up, each hoping it was his father offering him love and forgiveness. 1 In this lighthearted way, Hemingway reminded the people of his time that all children, especially boys and young men, hunger for recognition, acceptance, and pardon from their fathers. They are all “Pacos” yearning to run and find their father who will say to them, “All is forgiven.” When those relationships are lacking, households and whole nations suffer. Sadly, less than three weeks after Hemingway’s short story was published, the Spanish Civil War broke out; often pitting sons against fathers and fathers against sons.
It’s widely thought that St Paul’s advice to the Colossians: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged” [Col 3:21] is what prompted Hemingway to write this story. From his own personal experience, so much of a child’s later relationships and conduct in life are shaped by their relationship, or lack of one, with their father.
One thing has remained unchanged – children so much
need loving, accepting, forgiving fathers.
Friends, 85 years have passed since that story first appeared in print. Much has changed in the world since then, but one thing has remained unchanged – children so much need loving, accepting, forgiving fathers. Much of the unrest we are seeing in our country arises from the fact that, today, nearly a third of all children in the US live in a home without the physical presence of their father. Without a responsible father in the home, things often do not turn out well. Single mothers struggle to do the best they can but the evidence is clear, there is no good substitute for a caring father. 2 This is even more a reality in our time than it was in Hemingway’s.
If you have a loving, forgiving father, know that you are blessed. If your father is still alive, reach out to him; let him know how very important he is to you. If there are fences to be mended, do it now. If your dad has passed away, speak to him anyway; he can hear you. If you have the honor of being a father, reach out to your children, today. Let them know how much you care for them; offer forgiveness where it’s needed, accept it where it’s offered.
Father’s Day reminds us of how very much we need the love and forgiveness of fathers, here on earth; and how much we need the most loving and forgiving father of all, God our Father.
So let this Father’s Day be, for you, a time of reaching out. Happy Father’s Day, all.
‘Till next time,
Dcn Bob Evans
June 20, 2021
1. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, 1987.
2. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, 1996.