When her husband died, Linda didn’t want to raise her 3-year-old stepson, Lucas, so she left him at the local church and disappeared from his life. Fifteen years later, Linda showed up asking for forgiveness, but he only had a few words to say to her.
Lucas could barely remember his life before living in St. Mary’s Church in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He had a vague recollection of his father and mother, but it was just a few images. His real memories began later when the nuns of the church raised him.
They told him that a woman had dropped him off at the doorstep when he was only three years old, and they had taken care of him since. When Lucas was seven, the church started its official orphanage and took in other children.
Most of them got adopted, but not Lucas. Therefore, he held a special spot in the nuns’ hearts, particularly Mother Rosa’s. “Mother Rosa, do you think I will ever see my parents again?” he asked her once at the age of nine.
“I don’t know, Lucas. It’s hard to say, and I didn’t see your mother quite well. But God has a plan for everyone. We love you here, dear. We are your family,” she answered. Lucas was satisfied with that reply.
He went to a public school nearby and loved helping the younger kids at the orphanage. He also learned the value of giving back to the community, and his faith grew, thanks to the priest’s sermons.
At 15, he decided to become a priest and wanted to help lower-income communities. But he had a lot to learn first and couldn’t start his apprenticeship until he became an adult.
At 18, Lucas became an official seminarian of the church, and they were all so proud of him. It would take some time and lots of work before he reached priesthood, but he was up to the challenge. This was all he ever knew, and he loved it.
But one day, a woman walked into the church and recognized him immediately. “Lucas,” she breathed softly. Lucas looked at her and noticed her ragged clothes as well as her thin figure.
“Ma’am, do you need some help? I can guide you to the nearest soup kitchen. They’ll have something warm for you to eat,” the young man offered.
“No, Lucas. I’m Linda, your stepmother. I guess you don’t remember because you were so young,” Linda revealed and hesitated.
“Oh, well yeah. I was only told that a woman dropped me here and never returned. It’s been 15 years,” Lucas commented.
“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long,” Linda said. “Can we talk?”
Lucas signaled for them to sit on the church pew. He wanted to know what this woman had to say, and this was great practice for his intended vocation.
“I come here humbly to beg for your forgiveness. I shouldn’t have left you here. I was such a selfish person,” Linda began. “But when my husband, Carlos, died, I didn’t know what to do.”
“Carlos was my father? I don’t really remember him,” Lucas asked.
“Yes, and he loved you. He raised you alone, but I didn’t have any motherly instincts. So when he passed, I was lost. I wanted a new life and decided to leave you here,” Linda admitted shamefully. “But my life was not what I expected.”
“I’m here to listen,” Lucas said as calmly as he could. He was hurt that his father was truly gone, and this woman abandoned him. But it must have been part of God’s plan.
“Well, your father left me the house. But then I got mixed up with a horrible man. I committed some crimes on his behalf, then he convinced me to put the house’s deed in his name for legal purposes after I got into some trouble. He sold it and ghosted me,” Linda explained in tears.
“I was left with nothing. I tried to find work, but I had a record, so I’ve been on the streets since then. I haven’t been to this part of town in years, but today, I thought I would ask around for you, and as soon as I saw you, I knew. You look exactly like Carlos.”
Lucas smiled, thinking he once had a father who loved him and looked just like him. “But why did you come to see me?” the young man questioned.
“I need you to forgive me, Lucas! Out of all the horrible things I did, that’s the one thing that has plagued me. I was horrible to you as a kid. I once gave you water and called it ‘soup.’ I once left you at the house alone for a whole day,” Linda sobbed.
“That means that the kindest thing you ever did for me was leaving me here. I had a great childhood. The people in this church became my family,” Lucas revealed.
“Really?” Linda cried, looking up at him. “Does that mean you forgive me?”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. The only one who can forgive you is God. I can only say that I don’t resent or hate you for what you did. But you need to ask God for forgiveness. Talk to Father Peter, he will help you,” Lucas suggested and signaled to Father Peter, who was inside the confessional. Then he walked away.
Lucas hoped he had been as sympathetic as possible, despìte not wanting anything to do with her. However, becoming a priest was going to be more complicated than he imagined.
What can we learn from this story?
You can earn forgiveness. Forgiveness can be achieved by atoning for your mistakes and asking God for mercy.
Any career or calling takes work. Some people think becoming a priest is easy. But you have to empathize and sympathize with people, even after hearing their sins. That takes effort.
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