A Parable of Victory

At the 1997 ACP Benefit Dinner, this parable was proclaimed as the rationale for conferring the Gratiam Dei Award on David Hartigan, Attorney at Law.  If the meaning of this parable is not entirely clear, you may wish to read first a Preface to a Parable.  To be sure, the meaning of the parable was evident to David Hartigan and John Stroger.  To them both be  honor, glory, praise, and thanks, now and always.

* * *

In those days, the teacher spoke to his disciples in the form of a parable.

In times of old, he said, the kingdom was threatened by a powerful enemy, by the name of Goliath. Now Goliath was very strong, endowed with a massive bureaucracy. As a rule, resistance was futile. Every year, Goliath would assimilate 30% of your assessed valuation.

And so, Samuel the Priest interviewed several warriors, to see who would best defend the kingdom. They were all loyal and strong; but in the end the priest chose one young man to lead the battle, a son of Jesse, by the name of David. He was ingenious and persistent, courageous and intelligent. He was also trained by the Jesuits.   So, David was chosen as the one to lead and to defend the homeland. In fact, with the help of  Edward the Valiant, his lieutenant,  the young prince David  won the battle.   The kingdom was saved.

So, to celebrate the victory, Samuel the Priest gave the order that a great banquet be held. He sought the support of the high and mighty. The priest walked up and down the halls of justice. He visited the house built by Helmut Jahn. He met with leaders of the people. One and all, the high and mighty pledged their support. This was a worthy cause, they said.


"Let us help the elderly," said the priest. And the high and mighty said "Amen." "Let us fight racism," he said. And they anwered "Amen." "Let us honor the young prince who has won the victory."  And they said "Amen, Amen, Amen."

As the day of celebration drew near, however, one by one, the high and mighty declined to come to the banquet. One had to travel from the State of Illinois, across the sea,  to the Land of  Po; and so she regretted she could not come. Another of the high and mighty was the head of a great business center. To get more business, he went to visit China; and he regretted he could not come.


There were also two pooh-bahs who had given their support. Now, it is always good to have a pooh-bah at a celebration. They wear unusual hats. Also, they have good karma. Well, as it came to pass, both pooh-bahs who were invited said that they were called to another banquet at the same time, given by the Supreme Pooh-bah. And they regretted they could not come.


So, Samuel the Priest was disheartened. To get people to come to the banquet, he went out into the highways and the byways, inviting the beggars, the lame, the disabled, the derelicts, the tax collectors, and even the lawyers. And lo, the banquet hall was filled with people. There was much rejoicing and celebrating.


As the feast began, there was one of the high and mighty who came. He was a Samaritan, one of the few Samaritans among the high and mighty. This man was the Squire of the Forest. All the trees of the wood, from North to South, were his domain. Now the Squire of the Forest was a humble man, from the Land of Avalon. When he arrived at the banquet, he sat in the back of the hall. However, the prince who had won the victory said to him, “Come up higher, friend; and sit at my right hand. Of all the high and mighty, you alone have come to celebrate with us. You shall receive a place of honor, and your name will be great among us.”


The priest too saw what had happened and said to the Squire of the Forest, “Well done, good and faithful Squire. Because you have come to celebrate with us, you will be blest in your children and in your children’s children. You will have long life upon the earth. The trees in your forest will be strong and tall. The flowers will blossom before you. And the people will acclaim you, on the day of reckoning, in November."


Afterwards, back in the house, the disciples asked the teacher what this story meant. He answered, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” This is not the Gospel of the Lord, but it is a true story.

The Gratiam Dei Award is conferred at 8 p.m. After a brief litany, Bishop Frank Kane gives a solemn blessing. The master of ceremonies, Rick Thiernau, keeps things moving well, throughout the evening. In total, there are 120 guests present, a great tribute to the honoree.

President John Stroger (left) and David Hartigan (right)
Here, President John Stroger (left) congratulates David Hartigan (right) on receiving the Gratiam Dei Award.

Goliath was a giant, an enemy of the people Israel. In the Region of the North, whence David comes, Goliath is universally disliked, abhorrent to all.
Like his federal counterpart, the local Goliath is dangerous and powerful, especially when he comes from downstate.

State of Illinois Building, in downtown Chicago, designed by Helmut Jahn
Here is the house of the leaders of the people, built by Helmut Jahn.

Offices of the Chicago World Trade Center are located in the Merchandise Mart. At the time of writing, Neil Hartigan is the head of the center.
The Chicago World Trade Center has its offices in the Merchandise Mart. This is the largest office building in the world.

As the red sign indicates, John Stroger is in charge of the Cook County Forest Preserves
This is the domain of the Squire of the Forest.

The wilderness will be glad. The barren desert will sing.


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