The reverend finished his sermon and while talking to his fellow parishioners, came upon a thin, anemic and sickly wretch of a man. In India he may well have been casted an untouchable, but the Christian preacher felt a sympathetic tug toward him. He felt certain this beggar was harmless and went up to him.
Good morning to you,” the preacher introduced himself to the vagabond. “I don’t believe I have ever had the pleasure. I am Reverend Smith.” He offered his hand at the man with grayish beard and long black hair. Reverend Smith looked into his eyes. They seemed to peer through him and into his very soul. He instinctively took a step back. The eyes were coal-like, dull and black.
“I am Jeb Clark, Reverend Smith. I heard your sermon. I also heard you preach against those who dare to choose to have an abortion.”
“Sir, as you know in scripture, only God himself has that right to end a mortal life of us, his flock. We have the right over life and death of our livestock and our pets, but not a human, least of which an unborn baby.” Reverend Smith smiled a condescending smile on the ill-clothed, ill-dressed bum.
“Oh I definitely agree that God himself is the final arbitrator of life and death. You have no argument with me on that point. Tell me, that girl over there, is that your daughter?”
“The blonde with braces?” He asked seeing the O’Callaghan girl standing next to his actual daughter, Marisa.
“No, the one next to her. I want to pose a question for you. May I?”
“Certainly,” Reverend Smith replied with a hint of hesitation.
“In a few years your daughter will be old enough to pick a young man to be her beau. May I go on?”
“Yes, yes go ahead,” he insisted.
“This beau is not one you would have chosen but she did. One night the phone rings and your worst nightmare is realized when she calls to tell you that she was raped by another man; a criminal of the worst possible caliber. Tis man’s vary family are less than ideal; poor and prone to violent temperament. A month later, she admits that she is pregnant.” He allowed this to sink in. He remained quiet allowing the reverend to fully grasp what is happening. “Is it still her choice, or are you going to step in and make her raise that child, out of wedlock and possibly in less-than-ideal circumstances? After all you will most likely throw her out of your house because she committed sin. Am I right?”
His mouth went agape. A freight train could have gone through that tunnel. “I…I don’t know. It is so much easier to think of it if it is someone else’s daughter. But my own? I would still insist she allow that child to be born and if she can’t raise it herself, then perhaps put it up for adoption. “Abortion is not a choice but a cop-out, in my book, and in this book, the Holy Bible.” He held out high over his head for everyone to see including the transient.
“I see. You understand choices are made every day, including in Eden where the devil disguised as a serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, though God forbade her and Adam. Eve could have obeyed God’s will but instead she chose to disobey. Did she still end up in Heaven? I think in my mind that God forgave her indiscretion and welcomed her into the House of the Lord. Don’t you think?”
“It has been a pleasure talking with you, Mr. Clark. I must get ready for my next service. You have a good day.”
“You too, Reverend, you too,” He smiled after him as he left the hobo in his wake.
The reverend turned around and saw to his horror his daughter go to that foul smelling vagrant. They talked quietly between themselves. Reverend Smith couldn’t make out what was said, then they departed. She gave her dad a most winning smile. He went her and had to ask, “You know him?”
“No, I have never seen him before in my life, but there is something about him. I don’t know; a certain charisma? I can’t really pin it down, but he affected me like I’ve never been affected before. Did you get the same impression too when you two were talking?”
“It’s not what I would call infectious charisma,” the preacher replied in an aloof manner.
“I bet if he cleaned himself up and looked more presentable, you would have more positive impression of him,” She pointed out to her father. “For it says in the Bible: 1 John 3:17, But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
“Yes, but he will need to do more than be presentable for me to have anything to do with him. Look, I need to get ready for the next service and put him and his talk behind me. Do me favor though. Don’t date anyone until you are 40.”
“What? Dad!” He ignored her protests while he went into the oratory.
He prayed, “heavenly Father, please give me the strength to be a good father and your humble servant, amen.”