Devoured By His Own Message

Ten thousand years ago, there was a church that had not been painted for many years. It did not look nice at all. The priest decided to have the church painted, so he asked the painter, "How much will it cost to paint the entire church?"

The painter answered, "It will take me quite a few hours, practically all day to paint the whole church. Father, I would like to have only seventy dollars."

The priest said, "All right. Seventy dollars I am giving you, but you have to buy the paint also."

"I have to buy the paint also?" asked the painter.

"Yes. But the next time I give a sermon, I will pay very special attention to you. You will easily be able to go to Heaven because I will clear your path."

The painter was very pleased. He bought a very small quantity of paint, diluted it with lots of water, and started painting the church.

After half an hour, there was a thunderstorm, and it rained very heavily. The rain washed away everything. Then the priest got mad. He said to the painter, "Why did you have to paint now? Did you not know that there would be a storm?"

The painter answered, "How could I know? I am only a painter."

The priest said, "I am not going to give you any more money. With the money that I already gave you, you have to paint the entire church."

The poor fellow said, "All right. What can I do?"

The priest answered, "I am reminding you again that if you do a very good job, I will bring you very special blessings from Heaven. You will become prosperous."

The painter said, "All right! I am so happy that I will become prosperous."

The man bought new paint, but this time he did not dilute it. He was doing a very good job of painting the church. Unfortunately, the church was so big that he could not cover even one-eighth of the church with the paint he had bought.

The priest saw what was happening and exclaimed, "You are such a rogue! I gave you seventy dollars. Perhaps you are planning on telling me that you could not finish your work, so that tomorrow again you will have to paint. In this way, you will take several days to paint. Then every day I will have to give you seventy dollars. I know that is what you are planning. But I am not going to give you any more money. With the seventy dollars that I already gave you, you have to paint the whole church! Otherwise, I will not pay any attention to you. I will not bring anything from Heaven for you."

The poor man had already spent all the money on paint. This paint was only enough to cover a small part of the church. The painter said, "What am I going to do? I have no money. To please the priest, I have worked so hard for one full day. Tomorrow will be my second day, and the priest will not give me any more money."

That night the painter was praying to God. He said, "God, save me! Save me!"

God said, "I will save you. Do not worry."

The following day, the painter was returning to paint the church. While walking to the church, he saw a bundle of money. He picked up the bundle and counted three thousand dollars in cash. The painter looked around here and there to see if he could spot the person who had lost the money. He said to himself, "I must not take so much cash. Somebody has lost this money. Let me go to the police station."

Before he reached the police station, he thought, "Let me go first and give the priest the very good news. The church is near the police station, and the priest will be so happy that I have found so much money. I will tell the priest that I am going to hand over all the money to the police and let them take care of it."

The painter went to the priest and told him what had happened. The priest said, "You fool! Last night you prayed to God. That is why God gave you the money. Why do you have to give the money to the police?"

He said, "I prayed to God to save me, but then God gave me so much money! How can I keep this money? It is not mine. If it had been a few dollars, I could have taken it. But three thousand dollars I cannot keep. The person who has lost this money will feel miserable."

"That may be true, but how can you trust the police?" the priest replied. "How do you know that the police will give the money back to the person who lost it? If you go to the police station, the policemen can easily keep it for themselves."

The priest added, "The best thing to do is to put the money on the altar. Tomorrow God will illumine us. God will tell us what to do with the money."

The painter agreed and put all the money on the altar. Then he asked, "But what about painting the church?"

The priest said, "You do not need to paint today. Please come back tomorrow to paint." Then the painter and the priest both went home.

The following day, the painter came to the church and saw that the priest was not there. Alas, there was no money on the altar! The painter was telling everyone, "The priest has stolen the three thousand dollars that he told me to put on the altar!"

The priest was not to be found anywhere. Several days later, he appeared. Everyone asked him what had happened to the money. The priest said, "I have not taken the money! I left the money on the altar while the painter was watching. The following morning when I came back to the church, the money was gone! That is why I was so shocked and miserable! How can people come to God's House and steal money? No, I have not taken the money. This money has been stolen by someone else!"

The painter felt so sad and mad at what the priest was doing. Not only did he steal the money, but now he was very nicely trying to cover everything up.

A few minutes later, the priest's nephew came in and whispered something to his uncle.

"What are you whispering?" asked the painter. "Can you not tell me?"

The innocent boy said, "My uncle, the priest, is so kind to me. He has given me so much money! I am telling him how grateful I am to him."

The painter said, "I am going to tell the police everything that has happened. I am definitely not going to paint the church. People say that God is inside everybody's heart. I will have to find God inside my heart and not inside this church!"

Many people steal money. But they are usually ordinary people, not priests. Priests are supposed to save us from our sins. We go to priests to talk about forgiveness, about truth and about God. Ordinary people can do anything, but we do not expect priests to act like that. Perhaps the priest spoke so much about sin, that he became a victim to it. The priest was devoured by his own message of sin!