A DREADFUL DREAM
There was a wealthy man who lived without principles. He was reluctant to offer any help to poor people. He owned a palatial house and a large estate. A cruel gate-keeper was posted to prevent the entry of beggars and other poor people into the premises.
He was haughty and controlled every action of his wife and children. He did not permit them to perform any act of charity or spend any money without his consent. Poor beggars who approached his house for help were ruthlessly sent away. Even in an emergency, he did not show any mercy or sympathy to poor people. He did not have any contact with poor neighbours or relatives as he feared they might seek his help in their financial difficulties.
One day, the gate-keeper was sick and could not come for duty. A family of poor refugees from a flood-hit area came to his house and begged for some food as they were hungry and tired. He permitted them to take a jack fruit fallen from a tree in his estate. They thankfully went away carrying the fruit with them. He gave the fruit as the trees had yielded a large number of jack fruits and the fruits could not be sold in the market due to low demand. He was worried about his inability to utilise the fruits profitably. Fruits were falling down and causing pollution. His gift was part of cleaning and not an act of mercy.
That night, he had a dreadful dream. He dreamt that he was cast into hell along with several similar souls. There was fire all around. He cried aloud to God, who was seen seated in a distant throne in heaven: “Help me, Oh my loving Lord, I have been a Christian throughout my life. I have recited my prayers regularly and attended the Church on every Sunday without fail. You have put me in this hell of horror by error. Please raise me to heaven.”
God replied, “Name any one act of charity that you did with a loving heart in your life-time and I will help you.”
He thought thoroughly. The images of the poor and sick persons he ignored or rejected marched through his memory. He felt sorry for wasting all chances for charity. Suddenly the family who ate the jack fruit came to his mind. He shouted jubilantly, “Yes, my God, I have given a jack fruit to a hungry family. Kindly lift me from this fire, my Lord!”
God said, “You didn’t give it with love. Still I will give you a chance. I will lower a jack fruit tied to a rope towards you from here. You may hold on to the fruit and I will pull you up from the flames and fire.”
He jumped with joy, seeing the approaching fruit and embraced it as soon as it reached him. As it began to rise up to heaven, several souls caught hold of his legs hoping to escape . He kicked them away with all his skill. Suddenly a sportsman’s soul jumped high and caught the fruit. He raised a hand to punch him and push him away. “This is my fruit, Go away, you fool!” he shouted. Suddenly he lost his grip and fell down flat, back into the flames of fire.
With a shock he opened his eyes. He was lying flat on the floor having fallen from his bed in his sleep. He confessed his sins and started a new life of charity. His Christianity became a reality.
By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.
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