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115 Franciscan Studies 61 (2003) Diego de Estella on Luke 15:11-321 Introduction 1. This is the third parable that Christ brings to bear on the same subject, that is, against the wicked murmuring of the Pharisees. The parable is certainly replete with so great and so pleasant a sweetness that it can bring extraordinary consolation and strength to all, no matter how great sinners we may be. For in it God’s infinite mercy is set before our eyes as well as the graciousness and incredible love with which God receives sinners. For within all the gospels, in my opinion, there is no other parable of such great consolation. As I look at this parable, there is no sinner, no matter how great, who would not be converted to God, if that sinner paid attention to the goodness, graciousness, and love of that most merciful father and how he hastens to receive his lost son, how he kisses him, clothes him, and does not upbraid him for his evil life, and how he commands the fattened calf to be slaughtered. And when the singers have gathered, he reclines at table with him and rejoices and makes satisfaction to the brother who is murmuring about all the things he has against such praise of his brother. 2. What sinner, still obstinate in his sins, but considering all these things, would not hand himself over most willingly into the hands of this most merciful father, no matter how despicable he may be among all sinners?2 Who would be so hard that he would not be smitten by such great mercy? Who is so set in his wicked ways that he would not be frightened by such great goodness and experience his 1 Estella’s commentary on the parable of the prodigal son is found in the 1592 edition, Volume II, 231-260. Although I have diligently searched for all of Estella’s sources, I have been unable to locate the source for his two citations of Augustine (#53 and 142). Further, I have been unable to find the total source for his citation of Ecclesiasticus in #47. Likewise, I have not ascertained the source for his quotation of Jeremiah in #61. Moreover, I did not find the handbook or catechism that stands behind many of his references to grace, justification, and the sacrament of penance. I have taken the time to indicate the typographical mistakes found in the 1592 edition. 2 The 1592 text has a typographical mistake here, reading peccarorum instead of peccatorum (“of sinners”). 116 DIEGO DE ESTELLA inner person melting like wax and ultimately have his body racked with tears of genuine contrition and repentance? O most merciful Lord, these might complain about you and murmur about your mercy, but those who converted to you because of your heartfelt mercy in receiving them would not be offended. I have never known of any sinner, no matter how execrable, even if he had offended against you thousands of times, who, when he returned to your house, would not find the door of your mercy wide open and would find the table laden and you ready to recline and dine with him and would experience such great pleasure in your conversation and gracious familiarity as if you had been friends your entire life.3 3. Besides all these things what especially stirs my heart and gives me consolation is the most sweet name by which you brag that you are our father and are not ashamed to call me your son, although I am a speck of a man created out of nothing. So this name of father by which you are called functioned as spurs and most sharp stingers to my conversion. For your name is sweeter than the taste of honey on my lips and provides all the necessary means to melt the most hard and difficult heart of whatever sinner there is. The title of judge instills fear. There is no one who is not horrified at the name of God, the great and terrifying and powerful God, especially when he sees himself as weak and feeble because of his multitudinous crimes and human fragility...


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