In the Gospel of Luke 12:13-21, Jesus told the “Parable of the Rich Fool” to a man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. The greedy rich man was struck down dead just when he thought he had all material gains ensured for himself.
Deviating a little from the parable, I was a fool many times in my life, but not as rich as the fool in the parable. I remember a time in college when I was so high and on fire with God. There was a parish church in the university campus and I and my friends would go to Mass everyday before lunch. The priests were so kind to the student parishioners and were friends to most of us. After the mass, the priest would hear confession in the confessional box.
One time, I felt moved to say my confession right after the Mass. I was very young and naive and all too trusting. The priest was inside an enclosed booth while I was outside the booth without any enclosures. It was a very fervent and heartfelt confession such that I kept my eyes closed all throughout that thirty minute confession through sobs and tears. After the priest gave me his advice and absolution, I opened my eyes and stood up with complete relief. I noticed right away that my bag which I placed in front of me when I was saying the confession was not there anymore. I was alarmed and asked the priest, “Father, where’s my bag?” The priest said defensively, “What bag? I did not get it.” Then I renewed my crying, “Father, my bag was in front of me when I was saying my confession. My eyes were closed I did not see who took it away.” We looked around inside the church and there was no one nearby inside except the two of us. I cried harder and said, “Father, all my things and money are in the bag. I cannot eat lunch.” The priest gave me some money for lunch and advised me to take better care of my things even inside the church. I thanked him for the money and promised to be cautious next time.
Being the victim of theft felt nightmarish. I could not get over it for almost a week. And I felt bad that it took place right inside the church when I was saying confession. Looking back now, I said to God, “That bag contained a Bible (Old and New testament), my rosary beads, my book “Why, Oh Lord?” on suffering, and all cards (stampitas) of my favorite saints. I would be happy if that man who stole my bag would have been converted when he saw the contents of my bag. My money inside that bag was only P200.00, it was not much for his material intent. Then I thought of Henri Pranzini, the first convert of St. Therese of Lisieux, who despite appearing impenitent at the point of his execution through the guillotine, turned back to the priest who was holding the crucifix and kissed the wounds of Jesus three times. It was the sign that St. Therese asked from Jesus if her prayers were working for the conversion of sinners.
In heaven, there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance. (Lk. 15:7)