Virginia Gun Rally

Protest draws militias, fear of violence


RICHMOND, Va. – Thousands of gun owners and gun rights supporters gathered Monday at Virginia’s Capitol for a “peaceful day to address our Legislature” that appeared to generate none of the violence feared by some state leaders.

Many demonstrators, opposed to proposed gun restrictions, openly displayed military-style semiautomatic rifles. Other wore orange “Guns save lives” stickers as the crowd chanted “USA” and sang the national anthem. Signs read “Come and take it” and “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”

But despite warnings from Gov. Ralph Northam and law enforcement that out-of-state hate groups and militias may incite violence, the protest did not grow heated. Police estimated the size of the crowd at 22,000 – including 6,000 people inside Capitol Square – and only one arrest was reported.

Police said Mikaela E. Beschler, 21, of Richmond, was charged with one felony count of wearing a mask in public after being warned twice before against wearing a bandanna covering her face. Beschler was released on her recognizance.

Demonstrator Matthew French, 40, from Bland, called the rally a success and said he hoped the large, peaceful crowd would help sway legislators.

“The sheer numbers here speaks for itself,” he said. “I hope our legislators will back off. Today was the civil rights march of my life.”

Tom Rohde, 49, of West Point, said he was happy to see no violence.

“You got thousands of guns and not a single bullet fired,” he said.


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

Earlier, a heavy police presence greeted rally goers calmly lining up to enter the state Capitol, where they had to pass through a security checkpoint.

Connie Stanley, 58, from Aylett, came to the rally with a group of women. She sees owning a gun and the Second Amendment as a security issue. She said where she lives, it could take police too long to respond if she calls 911.

“As a woman, I feel like it’s about protection,” she said.

Northam declared a state of emergency Friday through Tuesday, banning all weapons, including firearms, in the square around the Capitol building. He said law enforcement received “credible” threats of violence from out-of-state hate groups and militias.

Heather Heyer’s mom: I own guns and think Virginia Democrats are going too far

At least six suspected members of a violent neo-Nazi group were arrested last week in Maryland and Georgia. Authorities feared three of the men planned to try to incite violence at the rally.

On Monday, law enforcement helicopters buzzed overhead as state, city and Capitol police kept a wary eye on the crowds. Barricades lined the streets and many shops were closed.

Demonstrator Brantley Overby, 22, came armed to Richmond from Henderson, North Carolina. He said whenever there’s a large group like the one here, carrying a firearm is about safety.

“It’s a sense of security,” he said of having a gun. “If something happens, you have the option to use it.”

Virginia gun rally: What’s behind the battle over gun control

He said he came to Virginia because he fears similar laws could pass in North Carolina and around the U.S.

“This is the first attack on the Second Amendment I’ve seen in a long time.”

Tim Hunter, 45, from Richmond, said the Second Amendment is important to veterans like him. He served in Desert Storm in the Army

“There’s a reason it’s number two on the list,” he said.

Hunter was inside Capitol Square, where tight security and fences lined the perimeter.

Hunter and everyone else inside the grounds “willfully decided to leave our weapons at home,” he said. “If we come out here as an armed mob, nobody is going to listen.”

While more than a thousand gathered inside the grounds, many more were outside rallying. Flags bearing President Donald Trump’s name and “don’t tread on me” poked up above the crowd as the smaller crowd inside the Capitol grounds watched. “We will not comply,” the large crowd outside the gates chanted.

The day was planned as a “lobby day” by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has organized similar events to advocate for gun rights for years. A mass movement grew out of the scheduled protest this year, however, drawing interest from people who had “malicious plans” for the rally, Northam said.

Authorities were determined to ensure that the rally didn’t spark chaos that marked a 2017 white nationalist protest in Charlottesville. Clashes broke out at the “Unite the Right” rally, and a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd, killing a counter protester. Some of the militia groups that said they would attend the rally in Richmond are the same ones that attended that rally, the Daily Beast reported.

“No one wants another incident like the one we saw at Charlottesville,” Northam said. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.”

Ben Rego, 43, from Chesapeake, was at his first “lobby day.” Rego said Northam and Democrats’ proposals have activated people like him, who otherwise wouldn’t come out to the state Capitol, to show their opposition.

“These laws aren’t being done in good faith,” he said. He worries that if a few pass, many more gun-control regulations will come and spread to other states.

The Second Amendment is about self-defense and protection from a tyrannical government, he says. He believes the latter is being lost in the discussion around gun control.

“It’s a touchy subject, but it’s important,” he said.

Driving the momentum behind the Richmond rally was a host of new gun-control measures backed by Northam and Democrats, who flipped both houses of the General Assembly and have full control of state government for the first time since 1993.

Democrats proposed limiting handgun purchases to one a month, universal background checks on gun sales, allowing localities to ban guns in some public areas and a “red flag” bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Other proposals include rules around reporting lost or stolen firearms and a ban on “assault firearms,” though some moderate Democrats have expressed concerns over that bill.

Three more suspected neo-Nazis arrested ahead of Virginia gun rights rally

Advocates for the gun-control laws say Virginians signaled their approval of the proposals when they elected a Democrat-controlled General Assembly in November. Many Democrats campaigned on the issue of guns, and gun laws were the most important voting issues before the election among both Democrats and Republicans, according to a Washington Post-George Mason poll.

Northam has worked to dispel the idea that he intends to go “door-to-door” with authorities to take away people’s guns. He says the bills are intended to keep Virginians safer, but his detractors see them as infringing on their rights to bear arms.

“All these bills are basically steps in the direction of disarming people,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Keep your weapons at home: Virginia governor plans to ban guns from gun rights rally

Adding fuel to the fire: Trump on Friday tweeted that the Second Amendment was “under very serious attack” in Virginia.

In the weeks leading up to the rally, more than 100 counties, cities and towns declared themselves “sanctuaries” for the Second Amendment, saying they would not enforce unconstitutional gun laws.

While the “sanctuary” resolutions passed in many localities have been seen by supporters as a way to fight back against Northam’s proposals, legal experts say those resolutions are largely symbolic as local law cannot supersede state law.

State Attorney General Mark Herring called the “sanctuary” resolutions “part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear” and said they have “no legal force.”

Similar gun-control proposals have survived constitutional challenges in other states, Ernest McGowen, a political science professor at University of Richmond, told USA TODAY. Compared to other states, what Virginia Democrats are proposing is no more extreme than other gun-control measures, he said.

“When you really drill down into it, it’s definitely a swing to the left,” he said. “But not one of those things where Northam is saying, ‘Take away everyone’s guns.””

Contributing: Jorge Ortiz

Read or Share this story:


Delonte West

How Delonte West Went From NBA Star to Begging on the Streets

T-Mobile Celebrates Partnership With Boston Celtics With Tip Off Tuesdays And Meet & Greet With Delonte West

Delonte West is a professional basketball player who has played for a number of NBA basketball teams, including the Boston Celtics, the Seattle SuperSonics, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Dallas Mavericks. (1) After his departure from the NBA in 2012, he spent some time at the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League before signing with the Fujian Xunxing of the Chinese Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2014 NBA Summer League, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, and then the Guaros de Lara of the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto. In 2015, he returned to the Texas Legends but was soon waived when he suffered a season-ending injury.

What Happened to Delonte West?

On June 26 of 2016, West was spotted on a street corner in the state of Maryland, where he seems to have been pan handling. (2) As a result, a rumor started that he was homeless, which built a fair amount of momentum from the fact that West is known to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but has also seen the fit to dispute the diagnosis for whatever reason of his own. This is not helped by the fact that former NBA players as well as their counterparts in other professional sports leagues have much higher-than-normal bankruptcy rates, which have resulted in a number of headline stories in relatively recent times.

However, it is important to note that West’s homelessness is no more than a rumor at the moment, meaning that interested individuals should not give it too much credence. Furthermore, the man has stated on social media that he was not homeless but instead helping out a homeless man who was paralyzed from the neck down.

Is This a Common Problem?

Whatever the truth of West’s situation, bankruptcy as well as the host of problems associated with bankruptcy are a common problem for former NBA players and their counterparts in other professional sports leagues, so much so that Sports Illustrated has claimed that an astonishing 60 percent of all former NBA players will go bankrupt after they leave the league. (3) This is because said individuals tend to share a number of common characteristics that increase their chances of spending more than what they are bringing in as well as a number of common needs that increase their chances of being exploited by people that they should have been able to trust.

First and foremost, when professional athletes manage to reach the top of their profession by signing a contract with a major league team, they tend to start spending lots and lots of that money within a short period of time. Sometimes, they spend that money to buy nice cars, nice homes, and other luxuries for themselves. Other times, they spent that money on the people who matter to them, whether by helping them with their necessities or by providing them with luxuries as well. Regardless, spending patterns are habit-building, meaning that said individuals find it challenging all of a sudden to stop spending as much when they retire, which is also when most of their streams of revenue dry up into trickles of revenue. As a result, the overspending of former professional athletes is combined with a much shorter earning period than most of the other high-income earners out there, thus making a serious problem that much more so in the process.

Second, professional athletes recognize this problem, which is why most of them will sink a sizable percentage of their earnings into an investment portfolio that is intended to provide them with the regular income needed to last them the rest of their lives. However, most of them have neither the time nor the expertise nor the experience needed to manage such portfolios on their own, which is why they are like most people in that they tend to entrust their portfolios to someone that they feel that they can trust to look after their financial interests. Unfortunately, most of them run into two problems at this point. First, their willingness to spend combined with their need for high income makes them susceptible to people pitching high-risk, high-reward investment opportunities, which are often little more than polite pretenses painted on top of financial scams. Second, their lack of interest in their portfolios makes it possible for the people entrusted with their portfolios to take advantage of them, which is something that happens more often than most people would like to admit. These problems are compounded by the fact that they are also well-known meaning that a lot of malicious individuals like to seek out professional athletes for their malicious purposes.

In West’s case, there is another factor in that he is known to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While it is manageable, it is still a mental health problem, which tends to be associated with homelessness in the minds of most people. After all, mental health problems are one of the most common reasons for homelessness, both because they compromise the sufferers’ ability to manage on their own and because they cause sufferers to withdraw from all of the people who could help them with their problems. (4) Something that is particularly disheartening because homelessness tends to exacerbate mental health problems, thus making it more and more difficult for the homeless to extract themselves from their condition.

Further Considerations

At the moment, there is no real way to tell whether West is homeless or not since there is next-to-no evidence for either side. However, since the man has stated that he is not homeless but was instead helping a homeless person, he should be given the benefit of the doubt until more information surfaces, assuming that more information will ever surface. Still, this case has once again highlighted the financial problems that are associated with too high a percentage of former professional athletes, which are so serious that the relevant institutions have started all sorts of initiatives in order to combat them. Whether these initiatives will be successful or not remains to be seen as well, but considering that professional athletes have well-known problems with well-known solutions, the chances seem to be good that they will be more helpful than not.



About The Author

Nat Berman

More from this Author

Nat is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Uncoached Corporation and all its properties. His primary roles are managing editorial, business development, content development, online acquisitions, and operations.Uncoached began in 2007 with one site and a goal of creating content that was clear, concise, worth reading, entertaining, and useful. Since then the portfolio has grown to 8 properties covering a wide array of verticals including business, personal finance, real estate, architecture, television, movies, entertainment, video games, lifestyle, pets, and more.


Packers vs 49ers

49ers vs. Packers: 5 things to know about the NFC Championship game

The San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers are set to face off in the NFC Championship on Sunday, Jan. 19, with both teams trying to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in several years.

The 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, 27-10, to reach the conference championship game. The Packers held off the Seattle Seahawks, 28-23, on Sunday to reach the title game.

Here are some things to know before next Sunday’s game.




San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Packers and the 49ers are the two best teams in the NFC and will meet to determine who represents the conference at Super Bowl LIV. The Packers won the NFC North division and the 49ers won the NFC West division during the 2019 season.

The two teams met during the regular season. The 49ers blew the doors off the Packers, 37-8, at Levi’s Stadium. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and only threw for 104 yards in the loss. Jimmy Garoppolo had 253 passing yards and two touchdown passes in the win.




Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

It will be Jimmy Garoppolo’s first NFC title game appearance since he took over as the team’s starting quarterback. The lack of playoff experience didn’t appear to diminish his performance against the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round. He was 11-for-19 with 131 passing yards and had a touchdown pass in the win.

Aaron Rodgers will enter his third NFC title game. Rodgers has only made the Super Bowl once having lost in the conference title game the last two times he’s appeared in one. However, the veteran showed his poise against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. He was 16-for-27 with 243 passing yards and two touchdown passes and had the game-sealing pass in the fourth quarter to Jimmy Graham.



San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, center, is greeted by with cornerback Richard Sherman, left, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, right, in the final minutes of the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 27-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, center, is greeted by with cornerback Richard Sherman, left, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, right, in the final minutes of the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 27-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Both 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Packers coach Matt LaFleur are making the conference title game for the first time as head coaches. It is Shanahan’s third season as head coach and LaFleur’s first. Shanahan had not had a winning record before the 2019 season. It will be interesting to see how each coach deals with the pressures of potentially making the Super Bowl.




Brett Favre helped the Packers beat the 49ers in the last meeting between the two teams in the NFC title game. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Brett Favre helped the Packers beat the 49ers in the last meeting between the two teams in the NFC title game. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File) (The Associated Press)

The 49ers and the Packers are both storied franchises with an incredible history. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls while the Packers have won four. These teams have played seven times in the playoffs – the last one coming in 2014. The 49ers got the best of the Packers in that game, 23-20, to advance to the divisional round.

The two teams last met in the NFC Championship game during the 1997 season. Brett Favre, Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman led the Packers to a, 23-10 victory. The 49ers only received a field goal from Gary Anderson and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Chuck Levy. Steve Young was sacked four times and threw one interception in the loss.

Green Bay has won four of the seven playoff matchups between the two teams.




San Francisco 49ers' Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco 49ers’ Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The 49ers and the Packers will play Sunday, Jan. 19, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Calif. The game is set to begin at 6:40 p.m. ET and will air on FOX.


Prodigal Son

12 things you need to know about the Prodigal Son

Posted by Jimmy Akin on Friday Mar 8th, 2013 at 3:12 AM

Article main image

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the gospel reading is the famous parable of the “prodigal son.”

It is a moving story that teaches us about God’s love for us and his willingness to forgive us no matter what we have done.

But there is more to the story than meets the eye . . . much more.

Here are 12 things you need to know.

1. What does “prodigal” mean?

The word “prodigal” is mysterious to us. Almost the only time we ever hear it is in the title of this parable.

It’s basic meaning is “wasteful”–particularly with regard to money.

It comes from Latin roots that mean “forth” (pro-) and “to drive” (agere). It indicates the quality of a person who drives forth his money–who wastes it by spending with reckless abandon.

That’s what the prodigal son does in this story.

2. Why does Jesus tell this parable?

This question is answered at the beginning of Luke 15, where we read:

[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him [Jesus]. [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” [3] So he told them this parable . . .

Actually, Jesus tells three parables:

  • The parable of the lost sheep
  • The parable of the lost coin
  • The parable of the lost son (or, as we know it, the parable of the prodigal son)

All three parables are on the subject of recovering the lost, which is the implicit explanation of why Jesus receives sinners and eats with them: They are lost, and he wants to recover them.

Interestingly, the parable of the prodigal son (and the parable of the lost coin) occur only in Luke.

3. What’s happening in the parable?

Jesus’ parables are based on real-life situations, though they often veer off from the expected course of events in surprising ways. Those surprises teach us lessons.

Here, Jesus relates the situation of a father who has two sons, one of whom can’t wait for his inheritance.

In Jewish society, there were laws regarding how inheritances were typically divided. The oldest brother got a double share (cf. Deut. 21:17), while the other brothers got a single share.

When there were two brothers (as here), the older brother would get 2/3rds of the estate, and the younger brother would get 1/3rd.

4. What is the prodigal son asking for?

In this parable, the younger son demands “the share of property that falls to me” (v. 12).

That means he is asking for the 1/3rd of the father’s possessions that he would ordinarily get when the father dies.

Think about that.

He’s asking his father to give him 1/3rd of everything that he owns right now, before the father is dead, when his father would still have use for these possessions.

How many fathers would receive that suggestion well today? How many would comply with it if one of their children asked it?

Not many!

This is a truly astonishing request, and it would have been even more astonishing in the ancient world.

In a society that highly reverenced parents, it would have been equivalent to saying: “Father, I can’t even wait for you to die. Give me 1/3rd of everything you have right now.

5. What does the father’s reaction teach us?

Despite the breathtaking–and insulting–audacity of the younger son’s request, the father grants it!


This reflects the amazing indulgence that God shows toward us. Even when we are acting as selfishly as the prodigal son, God indulges us.

He yields what is his and allows us to misuse it out of respect for the freedom that he has given us.

But he knows that the misuse of our freedom will have no better results than it did with the prodigal son’s misuse of his freedom, and God trusts that we will learn our lesson and come back to him.

6. What does the prodigal son do next?

After he gets 1/3rd of his father’s estate, he takes everything he has and goes “into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living” (v. 13).

In context, this means that he abandoned the Holy Land to go, voluntarily, into exile into a gentile, pagan country where he could live loosely without being censured by fellow Jews living all around him.

He wanted to get out of God’s land so that he could live in sin and fund his sinful lifestyle by what he took from his father.

But eventually the resources he had were exhausted and a hard time came.

If he had not spent what he had on loose living (as we will later learn, on prostitutes), he would have had the money he needed to weather the hard time, but he didn’t.

Thus he was reduced to a state of hunger and had to subject himself to a pagan (humiliation #1) and to feed the pagan’s pigs (humiliation #2).

He would have been happy just to eat as well as the pigs (humiliation #3), but nobody gave him anything to eat, not even from the pigs’ slop (humiliation #4).

Having been brought to such a low state, he recalled how his righteous father treated even his hired servants better: “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!” (v. 17).

He thus plans to return to his father and say three things:

(a) “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (v. 18),

(b) “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 19a),

(c) “treat me as one of your hired servants” (v. 19b).

Even being treated as one of his father’s hired servants would be better than the treatment he is receiving in the gentile world.

7. What do the actions of the prodigal son teach us?

They teaches us the depths to which our own misuse of freedom will bring us.

If we are bent on leaving God, things will go badly for us. We will be humiliated in the uncaring world.

The farther we get from the Father’s loving care, the worse off we will be, and our best course is to return to God and his forgiveness.

8. What does the father do next?

When the prodigal son returns to his father, something significant happens.

While he is still at a distance, the father sees him, has compassion upon him, runs to him, hugs him, and kisses him.

This is far from the humiliating reunion that the son might expect based on his previous audacious and insulting treatment of his father!

The returning son must have been astonished!

But he continues by beginning to recite his pre-scripted speech to his father, and he manages to get the first two parts of it out. He says:

(a) “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (v. 21a),

(b) “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 21b).

But before he can say the third part–before he can ask to be treated merely as a servant–the father interrupts things and takes them in a very different direction.

Rather than treating his younger son as a mere servant, he turns to the actual servants and orders a celebration.

9. What do the actions of the father teach us?

The first lesson is that the father will not treat a son as a hired servant. The younger son is still a son!

As a result, his return is something to be celebrated!

He is to wear a fancy robe! A fancy ring! Shoes! There is to be a fancy feast for everyone! There is to be music and dancing!


Because “This my son was dead, and is alive again” and “He was lost, and is found.”

This shows us God’s reaction when we return from being lost in sin.

He doesn’t begrudge us what we have done. He doesn’t take us back reluctantly.

Like the father in the parable, he takes us back joyously! Eagerly!

But this is not all there is to the story . . .

10. What does the older brother do next?

There is usually at least one major lesson per parable for each major figure in it, and now we come to the lesson that the older brother can teach us.

He didn’t demand his inheritance. He stayed faithful to his father. And now he is angry.

Why should his younger, wasteful, sinful brother receive such a reception by their father?

The older brother is so angry that he refuses to go inside and join the party.

Naturally, his father hears about it and comes to talk to him.

When that happens, we discover that he’s not just angry with his brother, he’s angry with his father, too.

He points out that he has never disobeyed his father’s commands but that his father has never given him a kid (a young goat) so that he could slaughter it and have a party with his friends.

In contrast, the younger brother has “devoured your living with harlots” (wasting a third of the father’s estate!), but when he comes back “the fatted calf” (that is, the best, most tender and delicious animal, specially raised to be so) is killed!

The older brother sees this difference in treatment as a manifest injustice toward him and is angry with his father because of it.

As we will see, he even seems to be worrying about his own security in the family since the father is showing such seeming favoritism to the younger son.

11. What does the father do?

The father tells the son three things.

First, he tells him: “Son, you are always with me.” This seems to be a reassurance to the elder son that he has not lost his place in the family. His place is secure.

Second, he tells him: “and all that is mine is yours.” This is because the division of property has already taken place. The younger soon took his third, so the two-thirds that remain will go entirely to the older son.

This means that the current celebration does not represent a threat to the older brother or his inheritance. Instead, it is a celebration of joy occasioned by the return of the son.

Thus the father thirdly tells him: “It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

12. What are the spiritual lessons for us?

From this parable we can draw a number of spiritual lessons:

  • We can be a genuine son of the Father–who is spiritually “alive”–and be “lost” through sin. We can turn our backs on our heavenly Father and leave him of our own free will. Mortal sin is a real possibility.
  • Mortal sin inevitably lands us in a far worse state than we were in originally.
  • We can, however, return to the Father and be accepted by him with great joy. In fact, he is ready and eager to accept us back and forgive us, no matter what we’ve done.
  • Christians who have never fallen should not resent those who come back. They should share in their Father’s joy.
  • Their own place is secure and their heavenly reward is not threatened. God loves them just as much as he loves those who come back through a dramatic conversion.

What Now?

If you like the information I’ve presented here, you should join my Secret Information Club.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Secret Information Club is a free service that I operate by email.

I send out information on a variety of fascinating topics connected with the Catholic faith.

In fact, the very first thing you’ll get if you sign up is information about what Pope Benedict says about the book of Revelation.

He has a lot of interesting things to say!

If you’d like to find out what they are, just sign up at or use this handy sign-up form:

Just email me at if you have any difficulty.

In the meantime, what do you think?


Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow Stats, Highlights, Bio | Stats

Signed by the New York Mets as a free agent to a Minor League contract on Sept. 8, 2016promoted to Class A Advanced St. Lucie on June 25, 2017… homered in his first Minor League at-bat on April 6, 2017 for Class A Columbia… homered for the second time in his first three games on April 9, 2017… appeared in 64 South Atlantic League games with Class A Columbia in his first season, hitting .220 with three homers, 23 RBIs, 24 walks, 14 doubles and 69 strikeouts before getting promoted… voted an Eastern League All-Star with Double-A Binghamton in 2018… collected hits in three of the first six Major League Spring Training games he started for New York in March 2017… was a non-roster invitee to Mets Spring Training in 2018 … selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round (No. 25 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Florida University… led Florida to a pair of BCS National Championships in 2006 and 2008… won the Heisman Trophy as the top player in college football in 2007 and was a Heisman finalist in 2008 and ’09… was named SEC Player of the Year in 2008 and ’09… spent two seasons with the Denver Broncos (2010-11) and another with the New York Jets (2012) in the NFL… was invited to training camp by the New England Patriots in 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 but did not make the final rosters… New York Times best-selling author also works as a college football analyst for ESPN on the SEC Network… in the NFL, Tebow had 17 career touchdowns, threw for 2,422 yards and rushed for 989 while scoring a dozen rushing touchdowns… played football, baseball and basketball at Allen Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida… scouted and signed by the Mets after holding a showcase workout at USC on Aug. 30, 2016, an event attended by 28 Major League clubs and 46 scouts… Braves and Rockies were reportedly interested in Tebow before the Mets signed him… received $100,000 bonus from Mets… represented by CAA Sports agent Brodie Van Wagenen.

Off the field: Contributes to a variety of ESPN platforms including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and the network’s Heisman Trophy coverage… a New York Times best-selling author, Tebow released “Through My Eyes,” which was named the No. 1 sports book of 2011 and the best-selling religion book of 2011… the book spent 24 weeks as a Times bestseller…. in 2017, he co-authored “Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters.: A Homeschooler’s Interactive Guide to Discovering Your True Identity”… also in 2017, he co-authored the book “Shaken,” which was a Times bestseller and was named the 2017 Christian Book of the Year … in 2018, he wrote (due Sept. 2018) “This Is the Day: Reclaim Your Dream. Ignite Your Passion. Live Your Purpose” … created the Tim Tebow Foundation, which aims to “bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” … the foundation also helps provide surgeries to children of the Philippines through the Tebow CURE Hospital… born in the Philippines and grew up the son of missionaries… worked with a charity to raise money for pediatric cancer patients and disadvantaged children… appears mainly on the SEC Network as co-host of SEC Nation, a traveling pre-game show… spokesperson for Nike, Jockey, FRS Health Energy and TiVO… was the subject of the 2011 ESPN documentary Tim Tebow: Everything in Between and the 2012 NFL Network documentary The Faces of Tebow… was designated a “Great Floridian” by Florida Governor Rick Scott in recognition of his “major contributions to the progress and welfare” of Florida in 2013… announced his interest to pursue a baseball career in early August 2016 and received contract offers from two independent league teams and a Venezuelan winter league club.

NCAA career: At Florida from 2006-09, Tebow appeared in 55 games, completing 661 of 985 passes for 9,286 yards, 88 touchdowns and 15 interceptions… he rushed 692 times for 2,947 yards and 57 touchdowns… was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2006… in 2007, he was a First-team Academic All-American, a Manning Award finalist, the National Offensive Player of the Year and SEC Offensive Player of the Year, a First-team All-American, the Roy Kramer SEC Male Athlete of the Year and won an ESPY for Best Male College Athlete… in 2008, he was again a Heisman finalist, won his second ESPY, was named the SEC Championship Game’s MVP and was a SEC Scholar-Athlete… in 2009, he won the Senior CLASS Award, was a Heisman finalist, First-team All-SEC, named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and was selected by Sports Illustrated as the College football Player of the Decade… in 2010, the NCAA instituted the so-called “Tebow Rule” which banned messages on eye paint, a rule not specifically named for Tebow but which many believed was influenced by him.

NFL career: NFL career was highlighted by his 2011 season in Denver when he won the team’s starting QB role and led the Broncos to their first AFC West title and first playoff appearance since 2005… was traded by the Broncos to the New York Jets after the 2011 season when Denver opted to sign Peyton Manning… was released by the Jets on April 29, 2013 after the team drafted Geno Smith… signed a two-year contract with the Patriots on June 11, 2013 but was cut on Aug. 31, 2013… signed a one-year contract with the Eagles on April 20, 2015 following a two-season absence but was released by Philadelphia on Sept. 5… was hired by ESPN on Dec. 30, 2013.

College football awards:

  • BCS national champion with Florida (2006, 2008)
  • SEC champion (2006, 2008)
  • William V. Campbell Trophy (2009)
  • SEC Player of the Year (2008, 2009)
  • Manning Award (2008)
  • Wuerffel Trophy (2008)
  • Maxwell Award (2007, 2008)
  • Heisman Trophy (2007)
  • Davey O’Brien Award (2007)
  • Chic Harley Award (2007)
  • AP Player of the Year (2007)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (2007)
  • First-team All-American (2007, 2008)
  • Second-team All-American (2009)
  • First-team All-SEC (2007-2009)



What is a coronavirus?


A coronavirus is a type of common virus that can infect your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. They can spread much like cold viruses. Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child.

Most coronaviruses are not dangerous, but some are. Those that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS ) can be deadly.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Coronavirus.”

World Health Organization: “Coronavirus Infections.”

Journal of Virology: “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV); Announcement of the Coronavirus Study Group.”

Journal of the American Medical Association News: “French Researchers: For Now, Middle Eastern Coronavirus Not Likely to Cause a Pandemic.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) or Common Cold.”


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Coronavirus.”

World Health Organization: “Coronavirus Infections.”

Journal of Virology: “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV); Announcement of the Coronavirus Study Group.”

Journal of the American Medical Association News: “French Researchers: For Now, Middle Eastern Coronavirus Not Likely to Cause a Pandemic.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) or Common Cold.”


Virginia Gun Rally

3 more suspected neo-Nazis with The Base arrested

The Virginia state Capitol building is surrounded by fencing, Jan. 16 in Richmond, Va., in preparation for Monday's rally by gun rights advocates.

Three more suspected neo-Nazis connected to a white nationalist group that reportedly planned to have members at a gun rights rally in Virginia have been arrested, authorities say.

Three Georgia men were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and participating in a criminal street gang as part of the hate group, The Base, according to the Floyd County Police Department.

News of the arrests come a day after three other suspected members of The Base were arrested in Maryland on firearms and alien-harboring charges.

The three Georgia men, identified as Luke Austin Lane of Floyd County, Michael Helterbrand of Dalton and Jacob Kaderli of Dacula, were planning to “overthrow the government and murder a Bartow County couple,” Floyd County police said in a statement.

Lane, who was arrested near his home without incident Wednesday, and Kaderli are being housed in Floyd County, and Helterbrand is to arrive later Friday, police said. Lane was also denied bond Thursday.

It was not immediately clear if the Georgia men planned to attend the Virginia rally. Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that the men in Maryland planned to attend, and authorities moved on them in fears they might incite violence.

The string of arrests come as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of Monday’s gun rights rally and banned all weapons, including firearms, in the area around the state Capitol in Richmond.

A judge upheld Northam’s ban Thursday, but rally organizers are seeking an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. It was not clear when the court would hear the appeal.

Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in a legal brief to the court Friday that Northam has the authority to issue the order for public safety and that it does not infringe on anyone’s right to bear arms or First Amendment rights.

Northam declared the state of emergency after he says law enforcement received multiple credible threats of violence by militias and extremists groups planning to attend the rally Monday.

Fearing violence similar to that of Charlottesville, where a woman was killed when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd in 2017, Northam issued the temporary ban on weapons through Tuesday.

“They’re not coming to peacefully protest. They are coming to intimidate and cause harm,” Northam said at a news conference earlier this week.

“No one wants another incident like the one we saw at Charlottesville in 2017. We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,” he added.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League, the group organizing the rally and challenging Northam in court alongside Gun Owners of America, has said the event is still on. The group planned the “lobby day” to try to sway state legislators not to pass a host of gun control measures that Democrats have promised after taking control of state government in November.

Following the election, more than 100 localities in Virginia declared themselves “sanctuaries” for the Second Amendment, saying they wouldn’t enforce unconstitutional laws. Legal experts and Herring have said those resolutions hold no legal weight as local law does not supersede state law.

However, as momentum grew with the sanctuary resolutions and planning of the lobby day, the movement spilled across state lines and onto pro-gun social media, sparking interest from groups outside of Virginia.

Groups identified as extremist organizations urged members to flock to Richmond on Monday, using fiery language of “tyrants” trying to seize arms and promising civil war.

Some of the militia groups that said they would attend the rally in Richmond are the same ones who attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the Daily Beast reported.

The Base, the group of which the six men arrested this week allegedly are members, has been identified as a hate group committed to creating a white ethno-state. Police in Georgia say the group, founded around July 2018, seeks to “accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state.”

One of the men arrested in Maryland, Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, is a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist who was dismissed over ties to white supremacists; he allegedly entered the U.S. illegally in August.

According to an arrest affidavit, the Georgia men were arrested in connection with an undercover FBI operation during which an agent was accepted into the group and gained access to its encrypted online messaging applications.

The three men allegedly planned to murder a couple they believed to members of Antifa, the anti-fascist group. According to an arrest affidavit, Lane spearheaded the plot to kill the couple with the help of Kaderli and Helterbrand, however, the operation was delayed, in part because Helterbrand said he had a bad back.

On at least two occasions, the men along with the undercover agent drove to the couple’s house to scope it out, the affidavit says. They also discussed burning the house down after the hit, the affidavit says.

At one point in the planning, the men discussed what would happen if their victims had children. Lane told Helterbrand they would “probably just leave them,” but Helterbrand said he’d have “no problem killing a commie kid,” the affidavit says.

The men allegedly settled on a February date to commit the murders. Lane also identified future targets who were members of television media, the affidavit says.

Lane also allegedly said he wanted to kill other members of The Base who knew about the plot and whom he feared would discuss it. According to the affidavit, a member of The Base in Maryland and one who had recently entered the United State illegally were his targets, however, those members were not named.

The affidavit describes the group as operating with regional cells for security purposes.

In Maryland, prosecutors said at a court hearing Wednesday that one of the men compared The Base to al-Qaida and discussed traveling to Ukraine to fight alongside “nationalists.”

Prosecutors say Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, traveled to Michigan last year to pick up Mathews. The men have allegedly operated in Maryland and Delaware since, building an assault rifle, amassing ammo and trying to make DMT, a hallucinogenic drug, as they discussed The Base’s activities.

The New York Times reported that The Base has become a growing concern for the FBI as the group recruits more people.

Contribtuing: The Associated Press. Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller


Delonte West

Ex-NBA Player Delonte West Appears To Be Broke & Homeless (PIC)

When the name Delonte West comes up in basketball conversations, it has little to do with his actual career, and more to do with the heavy rumor of him sleeping with LeBron James’ mother back in the day.

West has denied it for years, while LeBron nor his mother have ever spoken on it.

West has been out of the league since 2013, where he played for the Dallas Mavericks. Retirement has hit quite hard.

The former NBA player was found somewhere in the streets looking quite broke and homeless, a far cry from his previous life in the league.

Side-by-sde from his playing days in the NBA:

Nothing of this should be shocking since he was once seen wandering a Jack In The Box parking lot in Houston, shoeless and looking pretty discombobulated.

West made upwards of $16 million during his career.

Share This


Packers vs 49ers

What channel is Packers vs. 49ers on today? Time, TV schedule for NFC championship game

For the first time in 22 years, fans in San Francisco and Green Bay scanning their TV channels for the NFC championship game will be looking to watch their own teams play each other for a chance to reach the Super Bowl.

The 49ers and Packers, who entered the NFL playoffs in 2020 as the NFC’s top two seeds enter today’s game in San Francisco, scheduled to kick off at 6:40 p.m. ET on Fox, is pretty much as good as it gets for those who enjoy marquee matchups.

Though the 49ers and Packers entered the playoffs as the No. 1 and No. 2 seed, respectively, neither team was expected to be here based on most preseason projections. Green Bay entered the season with a rookie head coach, and San Francisco went 4-12 last year.

Now the Packers’ Matt LaFleur is the first coach to reach a conference title game in his first season since Jim Harbaugh did it with the 49ers in 2011. With a win Sunday, LaFleur would become the sixth rookie head coach to appear in the Super Bowl.

Against the spread | Straight-up predictions

Between LaFleur (40 years, 66 days old) and current 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan (40 years, 36 days old), this also will be the first conference championship game featuring two head coaches under the age of 41 since 1970.

Yet neither hot-shot coach can steal the spotlight from Aaron Rodgers on this stage, The Packers quarterback passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a 113.7 passer rating last week, marking Rodgers’ sixth consecutive playoff game with at least two touchdown passes. With at least two more Sunday, Rodgers would tie Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montanta and Drew Brees for the second longest streak of postseason games with at least two touchdown passes in NFL history (seven). Only Joe Flacco (eight) had a longer such streak.

Additionally, with two touchdown passes, Rodgers would tie Peyton Manning (40) for the fourth most career postseason touchdown passes in NFL history. With 4,700 passing yards in 17 career playoff starts, Rodgers needs at least 300 passing yards Sunday to become the sixth player with at least 5,000 career postseason passing yards in NFL history, joining Tom Brady (11,388), Peyton Manning (7,339), Brett Favre (5,855), Joe Montana (5,772) and Ben Roethlisberger (5,256).

Below is all the info you need to watch 49ers vs. Packers in the NFC championship game Sunday, including the TV channel and kickoff time.

MORE: Full betting preview for 49ers vs. Packers

What channel is Packers vs. 49ers on today?

  • TV channel (national): Fox
  • TV channel (San Francisco): KTVU
  • TV channel (Green Bay): WLUK
  • Live stream: Yahoo! | DAZN (in CA)

Sunday’s 49ers vs. Packers game on Fox will be called by the network’s No. 1 crew. That means Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the action from the broadcast booth, and Erin Andrews and Chris Myers wil report from the sidelines. Mike Pereira is Fox’s NFL rules analyst.

For those who can’t watch 49ers vs. Packers on TV and wish to find the game on the radio, the Green Bay call can be heard on Sirius channel 82 and XM channel 226, and the San Francisco call can be heard on Sirius channel 83 and XM channel 225.

MORE: Watch every NFL game and RedZone on DAZN (Canada only)

What time does the Packers vs. 49ers game start?

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 19
  • Start time: 6:40 p.m. ET

In our picks against the spread and our straight-up predictions for the conference championship round of the NFL playoffs, Sporting News is split on 49ers vs. Packers. Below are the explanations for each pick.

Against the spread: The Packers got blasted by the 49ers 37-8 during the Sunday night Week 12 meeting in San Francisco. In that game, Aaron Rodgers threw for only 104 yards on 33 attempts and was sacked five times. Green Bay didn’t have much of a running game to support him and fell into a big hole, 23-0 by halftime.

Green Bay has no choice but to play better offensively this time, with the “triplets” of Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones coming off an effective divisional playoff game against the Seahawks and working behind a solid line. The problem will lie in the Packers’ defense trying to slow down the 49ers.

San Francisco offers many paces and styles in the rushing attack with its deep backfield. Green’Bay’s front seven is built more to rush the passer and cover, and it can wilt against the run. There won’t be sudden secondary answers against Jimmy Garoppolo’s quick and physical go-to guys, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. The 49ers also can get the Packers out of position with misdirection, motion and play-action.

Rodgers will do the best he can with little skill help beyond Adams and Jones, facing defensive challenges on every level led by Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Richerd Sherman. Garoppolo is loaded by comparison and will see many more things available to exploit in the middle of the field.

Pick: 49ers win 42-24 and cover the spread.

Aaron Rodgers

Straight up: The 49ers should win this game for so many reasons. They’re at home, where they smoked the Packers on a Sunday night in Week 12. Their offense, founded on a trusty running game and supplemented by a handful of solid receiving targets for a smooth quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, is clicking. Their defense, now fully healthy and as dominant up front as anybody in the NFL, is at full strength. Green Bay should have no chance.

Just like the Titans didn’t have a chance against the Patriots or the Ravens in these wacky NFL playoffs. Just like the Vikings didn’t have a chance against the Saints. Just like the Texans were pronounced dead in the first half against the Bills. Just like the Chiefs were buried by a disastrous first quarter against the Texans.

Conventional wisdom is useless in the NFL, and the 2020 postseason is a perfect example of why. While the Packers are big underdogs against the 49ers in the NFC championship game with good reason, it’s not like Green Bay, which won 13 games in coach Matt LaFleur’s first season, is a pushover.

After the Packers beat the Seahawks in the divisional round, SN’s Vinnie Iyer pinned four things they need to repeat in the title game to upset the 49ers. First, they need to protect Aaron Rodgers. Even with Bryan Bulaga set to return at right tackle, this is Green Bay’s biggest challenge, because San Francisco’s pass rush is relentless.

Second, the Packers need get Davante Adams open. As long as they can keep their No. 1 receiver away from Richard Sherman, this is possible. Third, they need to convert on third downs. We trust Rodgers to do just that. Finally, they need to stop the 49ers’ running game. This is where Kenny Clark comes in.

Everything Green Bay needs to fall into place against San Francisco has a decent chance to do just that, especially with no weather concerns in Santa Clara. The Packers won’t have any issues with the weather in Miami, either.

Pick: Packers 27, 49ers 24

NFL playoff schedule: Conference championship games

Below is the full schedule for the rest of the NFL playoffs in 2020, from today’s conference championship games through Super Bowl 54, complete with TV channels and live stream links.

Sunday, Jan. 19

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
Chiefs vs. Titans 3:05 p.m. ET CBS Yahoo/DAZN (CA)
49ers vs. Packers 6:40 p.m. ET Fox Yahoo/DAZN (CA)

Super Bowl 54

Sunday, Feb. 2

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
Chiefs vs. NFC champion 6:30 p.m. ET Fox Yahoo/DAZN (CA)


Prodigal Son

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?

Question: “What is the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?”


The Parable of the Prodigal Son is found in Luke chapter 15, verses 11-32. The main character in the parable, the forgiving father, whose character remains constant throughout the story, is a picture of God. In telling the story, Jesus identifies Himself with God in His loving attitude to the lost. The younger son symbolizes the lost (the tax collectors and sinners of that day, Luke 15:1), and the elder brother represents the self-righteous (the Pharisees and teachers of the law of that day, Luke 15:2). The major theme of this parable seems not to be so much the conversion of the sinner, as in the previous two parables of Luke 15, but rather the restoration of a believer into fellowship with the Father. In the first two parables, the owner went out to look for what was lost (Luke 15:1-10), whereas in this story the father waits and watches eagerly for his son’s return. We see a progression through the three parables from the relationship of one in a hundred (Luke 15:1-7), to one in ten (Luke 15:8-10), to one in one (Luke 15:11-32), demonstrating God’s love for each individual and His personal attentiveness towards all humanity. We see in this story the graciousness of the father overshadowing the sinfulness of the son, as it is the memory of the father’s goodness that brings the prodigal son to repentance (Romans 2:4).
We will begin unfolding the meaning of this parable at verse 12, in which the younger son asks his father for his share of his estate, which would have been half of what his older brother would receive; in other words, 1/3 for the younger, 2/3 for the older (Deuteronomy 21:17). Though it was perfectly within his rights to ask, it was not a loving thing to do, as it implied that he wished his father dead. Instead of rebuking his son, the father patiently grants him his request. This is a picture of God letting a sinner go his own way (Deuteronomy 30:19). We all possess this foolish ambition to be independent, which is at the root of the sinner persisting in his sin (Genesis 3:6; Romans 1:28). A sinful state is a departure and distance from God (Romans 1:21). A sinful state is also a state of constant discontent. Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” This son learned the hard way that covetousness leads to a life of dissatisfaction and disappointment. He also learned that the most valuable things in life are the things you cannot buy or replace.

In verse 13 we read that he travels to a distant country. It is evident from his previous actions that he had already made that journey in his heart, and the physical departure was a display of his willful disobedience to all the goodness his father had offered (Proverbs 27:19; Matthew 6:21; 12:34). In the process, he squanders all his father had worked so hard for on selfish, shallow fulfillment, losing everything. His financial disaster is followed by a natural disaster in the form of a famine, which he failed to plan for (Genesis 41:33-36). At this point he sells himself into physical slavery to a Gentile and finds himself feeding pigs, a detestable job to the Jewish people (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:4; 66:17). Needless to say, he must have been incredibly desperate at that point to willingly enter into such a loathsome position. And what an irony that his choices led him to a position in which he had no choice but to work, and for a stranger at that, doing the very things he refused to do for his father. To top it off, he apparently was paid so little that he longed to eat the pig’s food. Just when he must have thought life could not get any worse, he couldn’t even find mercy among the people. Apparently, once his wealth was gone, so were his friends. The text clearly says, “No one gave him anything” (vs. 16). Even these unclean animals seemed to be better off than he was at this point. This is a picture of the state of the lost sinner or a rebellious Christian who has returned to a life of slavery to sin (2 Peter 2:19-21). It is a picture of what sin really does in a person’s life when he rejects the Father’s will (Hebrews 12:1; Acts 8:23). “Sin always promises more than it gives, takes you further than you wanted to go, and leaves you worse off than you were before.” Sin promises freedom but brings slavery (John 8:34).

The son begins to reflect on his condition and realizes that even his father’s servants had it better than he. His painful circumstances help him to see his father in a new light and bring him hope (Psalm 147:11; Isaiah 40:30-31; Romans 8:24-25; 1 Timothy 4:10). This is reflective of the sinner when he/she discovers the destitute condition of his life because of sin. It is a realization that, apart from God, there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:25-26). This is when a repentant sinner “comes to his senses” and longs to return to the state of fellowship with God which was lost when Adam sinned (Genesis 3:8). The son devises a plan of action. Though at a quick glance it may seem that he may not be truly repentant, but rather motivated by his hunger, a more thorough study of the text gives new insights. He is willing to give up his rights as his father’s son and take on the position of his servant. We can only speculate on this point, but he may even have been willing to repay what he had lost (Luke 19:8; Leviticus 6:4-5). Regardless of the motivation, it demonstrates a true humility and true repentance, not based on what he said but on what he was willing to do and eventually acted upon (Acts 26:20). He realizes he had no right to claim a blessing upon return to his father’s household, nor does he have anything to offer, except a life of service, in repentance of his previous actions. With that, he is prepared to fall at his father’s feet and hope for forgiveness and mercy. This is exactly what conversion is all about: ending a life of slavery to sin through confession to the Father and faith in Jesus Christ and becoming a slave to righteousness, offering one’s body as a living sacrifice (1 John 1:9; Romans 6:6-18; 12:1).

Jesus portrays the father as waiting for his son, perhaps daily searching the distant road, hoping for his appearance. The father notices him while he was still a long way off. The father’s compassion assumes some knowledge of the son’s pitiful state, possibly from reports sent home. During that time it was not the custom of men to run, yet the father runs to greet his son (vs.20). Why would he break convention for this wayward child who had sinned against him? The obvious answer is because he loved him and was eager to show him that love and restore the relationship. When the father reaches his son, not only does he throw his arms around him, but he also greets him with a kiss of love (1 Peter 5:14). He is so filled with joy at his son’s return that he doesn’t even let him finish his confession. Nor does he question or lecture him; instead, he unconditionally forgives him and accepts him back into fellowship. The father running to his son, greeting him with a kiss and ordering the celebration is a picture of how our Heavenly Father feels towards sinners who repent. God greatly loves us, patiently waits for us to repent so he can show us His great mercy, because he does not want any to perish nor escape as though by the fire (Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 3:15).

This prodigal son was satisfied to return home as a slave, but to his surprise and delight is restored back into the full privilege of being his father’s son. He had been transformed from a state of destitution to complete restoration. That is what God’s grace does for a penitent sinner (Psalm 40:2; 103:4). Not only are we forgiven, but we receive a spirit of sonship as His children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, of His incomparable riches (Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:18-19). The father then orders the servants to bring the best robe, no doubt one of his own (a sign of dignity and honor, proof of the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family), a ring for the son’s hand (a sign of authority and sonship) and sandals for his feet (a sign of not being a servant, as servants did not wear shoes—or, for that matter, rings or expensive clothing, vs.22). All these things represent what we receive in Christ upon salvation: the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), the privilege of partaking of the Spirit of adoption (Ephesians 1:5), and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, prepared to walk in the ways of holiness (Ephesians 6:15). A fattened calf is prepared, and a party is held (notice that blood was shed = atonement for sin, Hebrews 9:22). Fatted calves in those times were saved for special occasions such as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). This was not just any party; it was a rare and complete celebration. Had the boy been dealt with according to the Law, there would have been a funeral, not a celebration. “The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13). Instead of condemnation, there is rejoicing for a son who had been dead but now is alive, who once was lost but now is found (Romans 8:1; John 5:24). Note the parallel between “dead” and “alive” and “lost” and “found”—terms that also apply to one’s state before and after conversion to Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). This is a picture of what occurs in heaven over one repentant sinner (Luke 15: 7, 10).

Now to the final and tragic character in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the oldest son, who, once again, illustrates the Pharisees and the scribes. Outwardly they lived blameless lives, but inwardly their attitudes were abominable (Matthew 23:25-28). This was true of the older son who worked hard, obeyed his father, and brought no disgrace to his family or townspeople. It is obvious by his words and actions, upon his brothers return, that he is not showing love for his father or brother. One of the duties of the eldest son would have included reconciliation between the father and his son. He would have been the host at the feast to celebrate his brother’s return. Yet he remains in the field instead of in the house where he should have been. This act alone would have brought public disgrace upon the father. Still, the father, with great patience, goes to his angry and hurting son. He does not rebuke him as his actions and disrespectful address of his father warrant (vs.29, “Look,” he says, instead of addressing him as “father” or “my lord”), nor does his compassion cease as he listens to his complaints and criticisms. The boy appeals to his father’s righteousness by proudly proclaiming his own self-righteousness in comparison to his brother’s sinfulness (Matthew 7:3-5). By saying, “This son of yours,” the older brother avoids acknowledging that the prodigal is his own brother (vs. 30). Just like the Pharisees, the older brother was defining sin by outward actions, not inward attitudes (Luke 18:9-14). In essence, the older brother is saying that he was the one worthy of the celebration, and his father had been ungrateful for all his work. Now the one who had squandered his wealth was getting what he, the older son, deserved. The father tenderly addresses his oldest as “my son” (vs. 31) and corrects the error in his thinking by referring to the prodigal son as “this brother of yours” (vs. 32). The father’s response, “We had to celebrate,” suggests that the elder brother should have joined in the celebration, as there seems to be a sense of urgency in not postponing the celebration of the brother’s return.

The older brother’s focus was on himself, and as a result there is no joy in his brother’s arrival home. He is so consumed with issues of justice and equity that he fails to see the value of his brother’s repentance and return. He fails to realize that “anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:9-11). The older brother allows anger to take root in his heart to the point that he is unable to show compassion towards his brother, and, for that matter he is unable to forgive the perceived sin of his father against him (Genesis 4:5-8). He prefers to nurse his anger rather than enjoy fellowship with his father, brother and the community. He chooses suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation (Matthew 5:24, 6:14-15). He sees his brother’s return as a threat to his own inheritance. After all, why should he have to share his portion with a brother who has squandered his? And why hadn’t his father rejoiced in his presence through his faithful years of service?

The wise father seeks to bring restoration by pointing out that all he has is and has always been available for the asking to his obedient son, as it was his portion of the inheritance since the time of the allotment. The older son never utilized the blessings at his disposal (Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:5-8). This is similar to the Pharisees with their religion of good works. They hoped to earn blessings from God and in their obedience merit eternal life (Romans 9:31-33; 10:3). They failed to understand the grace of God and failed to comprehend the meaning of forgiveness. It was, therefore, not what they did that became a stumbling block to their growth but rather what they did not do which alienated them from God (Matthew 23:23-24, Romans 10:4). They were irate when Jesus was receiving and forgiving “unholy” people, failing to see their own need for a Savior. We do not know how this story ended for the oldest son, but we do know that the Pharisees continued to oppose Jesus and separate themselves from His followers. Despite the father’s pleading for them to “come in,” they refused and were the ones who instigated the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:59). A tragic ending to a story filled with such hope, mercy, joy, and forgiveness.

The picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship is a picture of how we should respond to repentant sinners as well (1 John 4:20-21; Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are included in that “all,” and we must remember that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” apart from Christ (Isaiah 64:6; John 15:1-6). It is only by God’s grace that we are saved, not by works that we may boast of (Ephesians 2:9; Romans 9:16; Psalm 51:5). That is the core message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.