There was a very, very rich man who was stingy to the extreme. Although he was mean-spirited, he was a good talker. He made everybody feel that he was a very kind-hearted man. In his old age, this rogue passed away. He had not done a single good thing in his life, and no one mourned his passing. After he left the body, somehow this rogue found himself at Heaven’s gate, not at hell’s door. In the Christian world, Heaven’s gatekeeper is St. Peter. The rich man was confident that St. Peter would allow him to pass through because he had performed an act of charity on earth.
St. Peter said to him, “How is it possible that you are here? You are such a bad person! I can see you have not done anything good on earth. How do you dare to come here?”
The rich man said, “I am a bad person?”
St. Peter said, “Yes! Tell me, have you done anything good in your lifetime?”
The rich man said, “I have definitely done good things.”
St. Peter said, “Just give me an example.”
The rich man said, “One day I was walking along the street and I saw a very old lady. She was very, very poor, so I gave her a coin. That is charity, is it not?”
St. Peter said, “I cannot believe you. You are making this story up. You are a horrible person. I am sure you have not done anything good.”
Then St. Peter sent an angel to look for the old lady in the realms of Heaven. The angel brought the old lady, and she said to St. Peter, “Yes, what this man is saying is true. I was about to cross the street and he gave me a coin. Unfortunately, just after he gave me the coin, I met with an accident, and I died.”
St. Peter asked, “Where is the coin now?”
The old lady said, “I still have the coin with me.” She brought out her coin and showed it to St. Peter. It was a small, worthless coin, absolutely old, dusty and disfigured.
St. Peter said, “This is your act of charity?” He was furious with the rich man.
The old lady said, “Do not be angry with him. He tried to help me. He gave me money, but I met with an accident while crossing the street, so I died. I know he is a good man.”
Now St. Peter became really furious. He said to the old lady, “You are such a fool! Can you not see that he has tricked you? Nobody would have accepted this coin from you because it is so disfigured!”
To the rich man, he said, “Go to hell!” For one minute the rich man had been able to stay at Heaven’s gate because he said he had performed an act of charity. Then St. Peter sent him to hell.
The rich man said, “What is this? You are sending me to hell without my money? If you want me to go to hell, then give me my money back. Why should I go without my money?”
St. Peter threw the coin at him, and the rich man picked it up and went to hell.