A man shows up to church hoping to cut in line to the confessional. He humiliates his poor neighbor in the process until the priest served him a little piece of humble pie.
Going to church has fallen out of style, as new generations have stopped believing in religion and practice their faith privately. However, Elliot believed in going to church every Sunday.
He confessed his sins to the priests and felt much better for the rest of the week. It was like starting fresh, and nothing could compare to that feeling. He often noticed the same faces that showed up to confess.
Many important people in town also attended church, and it looked great for his image to show up. He also noticed that his neighbor, George, was often at church. He didn’t know George’s occupation, but he knew that his family wasn’t as well off as Elliot’s.
The inside of a church | Source: Shutterstock
They were not particularly close but often greeted each other on those peaceful confession Sundays. However, this day was completely different. After mass, Elliot started talking to a prominent member of the local government.
He wanted to go to lunch with the man, but he needed to confess his sins first. By the time he was done talking to this man, the line for the confessional had gotten too long. The government guy would not wait that long for him.
Luckily, he saw George at the front of the line and decided to cut in. “Hey, George. How are you?” Elliot greeted as he didn't see him during mass.
“Hello, Elliot. I’m fine. Just waiting,” he replied.
“Why is the line so long?” Elliot asked.
“The priest got tied up with something, but he should be back in around 15 minutes."
A row of pews inside a dark church | Source: Pexels
“Oh, that won’t do. I need to confess immediately. I’m going to lunch with Mr. Rosslane,” Elliot bragged.
“Who is Mr. Rosslane?” George asked.
“You don’t know who he is? He’s part of the local council and one of the most important men in our town. I never get a chance to talk to him on Sundays. Sycophants always surround him,” he explained.
“Ah, the man in the nice suit. He seems like a nice person,” George said.
“More than a nice person. Having him as a friend will open a million doors for me and my business. Not that I seriously need it with all my success, but more money is always a plus,” Elliot added, matter-of-factly.
A bearded man with a hat | Source: Pexels
“Well, that sounds nice,” George said reluctantly.
“So, listen. I was hoping you would let me cut in line because I can’t keep him waiting that long. It looks good that I’m committed to my weekly confessions, but that man won’t wait so long,” Elliot explained.
“I’m sorry, Elliot. I can’t do that. There are several people behind me, including several elderly ladies. Cutting in line at church really doesn’t seem like the most devout act in the world,” he replied.
Inside a church | Source: Pexels
“I don’t care who is behind us, man. I’m just going to cut in. I’ve done more for this church than anyone in this line,” Elliot started.
“Done more? How so?” George asked.
“How so? Excuse me? I bought that gilded, golden cross that overlooks the façade. That was thousands of dollars that I donated from my own money. I also donated the new Virgin Mary statue which cost a pretty penny,” he continued.
A golden cross | Source: Pexels
“That’s impressive,” George acknowledged.
“Of course, it might seem that way to you. You don’t really have the funds to contribute as I do, but all that money didn’t dent my wallet that much either. I’m important to this church, so I should go first,” Elliot finished.
Before George could say anything more, the priest approached the confessional, and Elliot slipped right into the tiny booth despite the tiny protest of several people in line. But they were all inside a church. They couldn’t exactly fight Elliot or make a scene.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” Elliot started.
The confessional | Source: Pexels
“Yes, my child,” the priest answered.
Elliot took his time confessing his sins and felt the immediate relief that came each week.
“So, what do you suggest, father? A few Hail Marys, and I’m good to go?” Elliot asked, almost mockingly.
“Are those all your sins, my child?” the priest asked.
“Of course, they are the same every week, Father. Why do you ask?” he asked, puzzled.
A confessional | Source: Unsplash
“I don’t normally intervene in these matters, but I couldn’t help but hear your discussion with George outside this booth,” the priest started.
“You don’t understand, Father. I needed to cut ahead because I have an important business lunch, and George was difficult,” he cajoled.
“That doesn’t matter to me. Confession is not something you get done quickly, like a common house chore,” the priest answered. “It seems that you believe that your time is more important than others because you have donated expensive things to the church. You’re mistaken, my boy.”
“Father, I—,” Elliot tried to say before the priest cut him off.
A close up of an open bible | Source: Pexels
“I’m not done. George might not have donated all the money you have, Elliot. But he had given his time. He helped put that expensive gilded cross up there, and he helps us clean up after everyone leaves on Sunday. He has organized fundraisers and church picnics, but you never attend those,” the priest added.
“I’m so sorry, Father. I don’t know what else to say,” Elliot replied, subdued.
“Bragging about your money inside a church is not seemly, Elliot. Putting people down because of their financial status can also be considered a sin, remember? Greed and Pride?” the priest continued. “But I forgive you, and so does God. But you should strive to practice what you learn here every week. Otherwise, it’s useless.”
Bearded man in a hat looking up | Source: Pexels
Elliot left the booth feeling awful. He apologized to the people standing in line for cutting in and for his horrible words to George.
“I accept your apology, man. But try to be better,” George said as he walked inside the confessional.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Be more humble. Elliot bragged about all his amazing donations, but his heart was not in the right place. Money doesn’t make you better than anyone.
2. Church is not a get-out-of-jail card. Confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness is meaningless if you’re still going to act horribly towards others.
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