I was listening attentively as he started to tell me the story….
The Court room was very big filled to capacity with a large audience. There was a mystical hush in the air as the place was exceptionally quiet and all eyes and ears were strained in anticipation of the trial.
The shackled defendant was pushed into the room unceremoniously and seated next to his defense advocate. The prosecution had a team of very clever lawyers. The honorable judge was announced. Every one stood up as he entered in his solemn majestic aura. The proceedings started by stating the numerous accusations … ‘impersonating public officers, fraud, theft…etc.’ the list was too long. The prosecutor did not waste any time. He was ready with witnesses, pictures, evidence and various recordings. He made a compelling case against the little man in shackles. He ended his presentation in a booming voice, pointing a finger at him and screaming,
“Justice demands that that miserable criminal be put away for good, so he would not hurt anybody any more.”
Dead silence followed as everybody was anxious to see how the defense would handle such devastating presentation.
The defense lawyer stood up smiling. He looked at his client almost contemptuously. His words shocked the entire court as he spoke deliberately and clearly,
“Your Honor, I seem to agree with my respectable colleague of the prosecution. My client has exhibited reckless abandon to all the rules and laws which he knew well. I think he is ready to pay for his horrendous crimes.”
The judge’s face did not betray any sentiment, one way or the other. He looked straight at the wretched defendant, while asking the defense lawyer,
“Is there any thing you want to add which may help reduce this man’s punishment? Are there any mitigating circumstances which may shed some light on the reasons why he might have been driven to do what he did?”
“Your Honor, every criminal has an excuse. As he himself would tell you, no excuse would be good enough to comfort those victims he had so blatantly hurt or to restore the damages he had inflicted on them”
The Judge tried again,
“Do you think the defendant has the full mental capacity to comprehend the seriousness of what he had done? Are you sure he wouldn’t want to plead insanity?
The defense lawyer answered,
“Your honor, these are so many varied crimes, committed over a long period of time and in many different places. Some of them were well planned and the others were crimes of opportunity. There can be no doubt that these are deliberate actions of a cunning individual”
“Does the defendant want to say anything on his own behalf?”
The miserable man stood up and looked completely bewildered. He looked around with eyes full of tears and a face covered with despair. The judge spoke again,
“Do you want to say something? Speak up….”
“I…just…I mean. I’m sorry. I know I am such a detestable monster. I…” he broke down into a fit of sniveling. Choking on his words he blurted, “But there is something in my heart that is hard to believe. I cannot believe it myself. I cannot even understand the paradox. For the fact is…” He stopped, wiped his eyes with the back of his shackled hand, then looked up and continued in a rather steady voice, “I loved all these people”
There was a stir and a commotion in the court. The Judge had to pound his gavel down to restore order. The judge then asked,
“You say you loved these people? How then did you get yourself to hurt them in all these many different ways and over the course of so many years? This does not make sense. Try to explain yourself”
The Prosecutor now had to inject himself into the discussion,
“Your honor, this is a futile attempt to stall the proceedings of the court. This weasel is so clever that he deceived all these victims into believing this blatant lie…it is so easy for a heartless monster like this to say ‘I love you’ in order to have his way with unsuspecting innocent people”
“We shall hear what he needs to say” Said the judge firmly pointing to the defendant, “Go on, and finish what you want to say.”
“Your honor,” the wretched criminal answered, “I don’t deserve any mercy. No punishment is great enough as a penance for the damage and harm I caused for those whom I love so much. Please I beg you…I do beg you… just save them from the monster which I have become. Please rid them of me. Lock me up and throw away the key”
The judge went through the documents before him. Then, after a long suspenseful silence; he finally looked at the audience in the court and said, “It is evident to me that this criminal has committed all those crimes. It is indeed indefensible. However, it is also evident to me that he loved those who became his victims in a manner that is hard to deny, though also hard to explain. Is there any one in this court who can put a tangible value for the love this defendant rendered to those who accused him?”
A long silence followed. When nobody ventured to answer, the judge repeated the question. Finally he spoke in a calm and emphatic voice, “It is the judgment of this court that that man be sold into slavery. The price collected will be used to compensate his victims for all damages.” Upon saying this, he pounded the gavel and adjourned the court.
The man telling me the story stopped speaking. I had to urge him to continue, “So what happened next? What happened to the prisoner? Do you know this criminal?”
He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “That criminal is me…”
I was quite astounded. So I had to ask a little hesitantly, “You? So how come you are here talking to me? Are you a run away slave?”
“No. I am not a slave any more.” He spoke like one who was dreaming and continued, “I languished in prison for a while, waiting for someone to pay the price. Nobody wanted to buy a monster like me. Some even stopped by my prison cell to mock and upbraid me. Finally a buyer emerged from nowhere. He said that he waited so long to get the price as cheap as possible. To my surprise, it was the prosecutor. Yet, a more astonishing thing happened immediately after that. As soon as the prosecutor put his bid, another buyer outbid him. The new buyer put in such a high price that the prosecutor would not be able to counter his bid….” He stopped again as the tears flooded his face. I had to push him to speak. I queried anxiously,
“Speak up man, who was that new buyer?”
“The jailer unshackled me to the chagrin of the prosecutor who became exceedingly angry but was unable to do anything” He said, “Then the jailer told me to go meet the judge in his chambers. I was mortified. As I entered the room, the judge was seated behind his desk. He told me to sit down. Then he said to me, ‘There is an article in the law that specifies that ‘those who love much will be forgiven much’* I have used that article in the law to pay for your ransom. I had to wait until the prosecutor made his move so I can outmaneuver him. I know he was bent on destroying all your chances for freedom. I strongly suggest that you let your love guide you rather than blind you. You see, love must be tempered with discernment and discipline otherwise it would be counterproductive…or even outright destructive…Undisciplined love is like an undisciplined brain…it is unmitigated madness. Now I am setting you free. Use your freedom wisely’”
When the speaker stopped this time, I couldn’t push him anymore. I was dumbfounded. I looked at him, as one who has been spared certain death, and said,
“So what are those tears for? You must be the luckiest man alive…”
He smiled at me, stood up to walk away saying, “Can you think of any possible way to pay back such ultimate generosity?”
* Luke 7:47