The Time Fr. Brendan Got Accused of Stealing: A Lesson in Truth and Mercy
I remember one day at school in Ireland, the principal of the school accused me of stealing some money from another boy’s gear and he said he had a witness. I did not know what to say as I knew I had not stolen anything, but nonetheless I was accused by the Brother who was the principal, judged by him and convicted, which meant expulsion. When I got home to tell my parents that I had been expelled for something I did not do, they were dumbfounded! My father pulled me aside and asked me plainly, “Did you do what Br. Raphael accused you of?” I said, through my tears, “No. I did not, I promise, Dada. I did not.” I wept bitterly because I knew there was “no court of appeal” as Br. Raphael had the last word.
But my father said he would go and talk to Br. Raphael and advocate for my cause. Off to school we went and my father inquired as to the certainty of the accusation, who the eyewitness was. My father calmly asked to talk to the other boy who had accused me and witnessed the theft, and Br. Raphael agreed with him present. My father made one statement and asked the boy one question. He said, “Brendan was expelled from the school today based on your word of witnessing a theft. Is it true that you witnessed this act?” The boy was shocked I had been expelled and started to cry. He broke down and admitted he was the one who stole the money and he was sorry. Br. Raphael was embarrassed and immediately expelled the other boy. But my father advocated his case too! He said, “Br. Raphael, today truth has won a victory. This boy told the truth despite him getting into trouble and saved my son. I believe that deserves leniency. He has learned his lesson.” Br. Raphael was even more shocked and agreed to not expel the boy.
I learned a lesson that day. Truth and mercy meet in God.
In today’s gospel we hear Jesus assure us that he will send an advocate to plead our cause. The Holy Spirit is constantly within us and around us pleading the cause of truth and mercy. Will we listen and be part of that truth and mercy? Sometimes we need to ask for the truth and sometimes we need to be merciful. Today, remember everything is a potential lesson for our children and people around us. Be truth and merciful today and the world will be a better place.
– Fr. Brendan McGuire