Once upon a time, there was a church in a distant land. The church had a priest who helped other prople carry out their religious duties and he lived alone, with only a little boy whom he had adopted as his son.
One day, the priest needed the boy to bring him something from the market. He looked everywhere but could not find him. At last, he peeped through one of the church windows to take a look inside and found the boy playing with someone.
He opened the door quietly to find that the boy’s playmate was none other than the statue of the child Jesus. The white alabaster sculplture had somehow come alive. It had left its shrine and was down on the floor talking and playing with the boy.
The astonished padre remembered the saying that God appeared only before innocent people. Who was purer of mind than the little boy, still untouched by the filth of the world?
The priest softly slipped away and ordered a very fine dinner for his little boy. When the child returned to the convent, the padre asked him where he had been.
“In the church, sire. I was playing with a friend.” smilingly replied the kid.
“Very well, there is your dinner. You may share it with your friend if you like” said the priest.
“That will be so nice, sire.” said the boy. But as he was about to go away, the priest stopped him and said to the boy,
“My child, I want you to do something. When you meet your friend again, will you ask him if I shall go to glory in heaven when I am dead?”
“Sure father” replied the boy. He took his dinner to the church to share it with the child Jesus, leaving the padre waiting anxiously for him to return.
When the boy came back after some time, the priest eagerly asked him if he had met his friend again.
“Yes, I met him sire. I asked my friend if my master will go to glory in heaven? But he said that you will not, because you have neglected your father and mother.”
The priest was very sad to hear this. He thought a little and told the boy again,
“If you ever meet your friend again, ask him if I will be forgiven for my wrongs to my parents if I did good to other old people.
The boy did as he was told to. When he met his heavenly companion again the next day, he asked him “Tell me, friend, will my master the priest, go to glory in heaven if he served other old people ?”
“No,” said the child Jesus, “it must be his own father and mother who shall receive their dues. He shall be able to enter heaven alive only if he serves his own parents well.”
When the padre heard this, he went back to his poor old father and mother whom he had neglected till then. He brought them to where he lived and treated them with utmost kindness, love and respect. He lavished on them every care and did not let anyone else do even the least bit for them.
When he saw the joy that his parents recieved because of his kindness towards them, his own happiness stopped having any meaning for him. Slowly, he began to have a change of heart and he stopped thinking about any heavenly reward. All day and night, he thought of ways to make his parents happier than they were. It was not the thought of heaven, but the thought of his parents’ happiness that led him to do more and more for them.
Then one day, his old father and mother died. They were very happy with their son and they lived and died peacefully, content with the knowledge that their boy loved them so much.
The priest was very sad. He could not get over his grief at the loss of his parents for days. But one night, he was awakened from his sleep by his son, who had grown a little older by then. The boy told him to listen. There was a soft and lovely music that seemed to be playing all over the convent.
“Oh,” said the padre with joy, “it is perhaps the angels who have come to carry us alive to heaven.”
And he was right. The angels carried the boy and the priest, his master, to the glorious heaven.