Forty two years ago a small girl looked up at her mother in the checkout line in the local grocery store. She picked up a ten cent pack of gum and asked mom if she could have it. Mother, obviously busy checking her groceries and chatting with the clerk waved her hand and said, “Fine, fine,” and continued on with her conversation. The girl, overjoyed at being told yes, clung to her pack of gum with glee.
Arriving home the girl debated offering some gum to her sister when her father approached her asking what she had in her hands. She proudly showed him the pack and he demanded to know where she got it. She replied that her mother let her buy the gum, and her father called for the mother. Mother arrived and father asked about the gum.
Mother, of course, denied any knowledge of said gum despite the girl’s protests.
The lecture came; she was branded a thief and must pay penance. Get your piggy bank, ordered father. Obediently she retrieved a precious dime and returned to the store along with her mother, under strict guidelines as to what repentance entailed.
In the store, the girl begged her mother to go with her to the manager. The two approached the man and the girl began to cry. She told him she was sorry because she had taken the gum without paying for it-she could not bring herself to say “stole” because no matter what, in her heart, she had not stolen. She handed him her dime to pay for the gum, which he thanked her for. She then handed him the gum and told him she must return the gum as well. The manager objected, and the mother explained the father’s commands. To learn her lesson well, she must return the gum and pay for it. The manager, with tears in his eyes, commended the little girl for her honesty, and apologized for the harshness of her punishment. The girl nodded, tears still streaming down her cheeks, turned and walked away, holding on to her mother’s hand.
Looking back upon the situation from an adult’s point of view, I ask…
Who was in greater need of repentance?