My friend and neighbor has written a beautiful parable that I am pleased to share with you today. David Harding works actively in his ward and neighborhood. His daughter is my daughter’s best friend. As those of you with children know, it is a great blessing to have your offspring fall in with good people who help support them as they grow into themselves. Periodically, maybe once or twice a year, David writes something that he thinks could be shared beyond his close circle. The topics range, but as often as not they are gospel related. And so I’m introducing David, and one of his writings, to you.
The Parable of the Two Sons
by David Harding
The master of the vineyard was setting out to travel foreign lands for a number of years. He had two sons whom he loved more than anything else. They had recently come-of-age and now had their own budding households. The first son was nervous about the impending absence of his father, and approached his father asking for some extra money in case things went poorly while he was gone. The father had compassion on his son and gave him ten talents to ensure he would have sufficient funds to cover any unforeseen difficulty.
During the first year of the master’s travels there was a bountiful harvest at home. The second son worked hard and made a fair profit. The first son, on the other hand, used the ten talents from his father to buy more land and hire field workers, and thus he made a handsome profit. He was able to earn back the ten talents by the end of the season.
At the beginning of the second season the second son approached his brother and asked if he could likewise use the ten talents to buy more land for himself and hire workers. “Not so,” said the first brother, “or perhaps I will not be able to return the ten talents to father when he returns.” The second season was also prosperous and both brothers fared well in their fields, but the first brother earned far more from his larger land and many workers.
The weather did not cooperate during the third season. Determined to make it, the second son worked himself to exhaustion. He eventually fell ill from exertion and was unable to care for his field and lost his harvest. He returned again to ask his brother for some of their father’s money to pay for medicine. “Not so,” said his brother again, “or perhaps I will not be able to return the ten talents…plus interest.” But in truth, the first son had more than enough profits for interest and had taken to enjoying, what he called, the finer things in life. Desperate, the second son borrowed against his house and land to pay for the medicine. He eventually recovered his health, but with no harvest he was not able to pay back the loan and lost his home and land.
That off-season was cruel to the second son, with no shelter, and having to beg for food to live. At the beginning of the fourth season he returned to his brother to ask if could be hired on to work in his fields. “Not so,” said his brother, “for you are too weak to be worthy of your hire. But take these two shekels,” he continued, “and buy yourself a cloak without so many holes. Remember how merciful I’ve been to you.” And so it went, with the first son living a life of luxury and ease, while his brother lived in destitution.
The master of the vineyard returned after the fourth season. A jubilant first son came unto his father to repay the ten talents, plus interest. He told his father of all that he had amassed while his father was away. The second son then entered the room, with head bowed, dirty, and ribs protruding. His father ran to him. He called for his servants to bring food and water. He placed his own raiment on his second son. The first son was confused at all the attention his brother was getting and waited quietly. He wasn’t sure if it was anger or hurt that he saw in his father’s eyes when the master finally looked back at him.
Eventually his father spoke to him, “Know ye not that I love your brother as much as I love you? Did I not command you to love and care for your brother as yourself?”