Stop, Look, and Listen!

Jason is a third-year student in a public high school of one of the big cities in the country.  Everyone in school knows Jason. He is full of joy, enthusiasm, and excitement. He is a leader in their class and one of the leaders in many organizations in their school. He participates in many activities and events in their school.

One day, Jason was picked up by two policemen when the students were already starting to leave the school. Jason was surprised because he did not know of any wrongdoing that may have implicated him. Jason’s classmates and friends were also shocked. What could he have done?

“Please come with us to the station. Your father is caught stealing something from the neighboring store,” the policeman told Jason. Those who heard started to get more interested. The classmates know that Jason is from a poor family, but they admire his intelligence, diligence, and good attitude.  

“What can I do and how can I help him?” Jason tried to reason with the police officers because he was afraid to go with them. “I do not have any money to pay for what my father may have stolen,” added Jason.

The policemen insisted for Jason to go with them. They said, “You might be the only help that he has now.”

Jason started to cry. How can life be so unfair to him. His father, the only one who supported him to school with minimal help, had to go to jail. “Don’t they know that he sometimes is out of his sound reasoning?” Jason was thinking to himself. Obligingly, he went with the policemen.

At the police station, Jason cried out loud as he saw his father who was very quiet. “Don’t worry, Father, I will get you out of here.” His father cried and said, “I did not steal anything. It was not me who got the 2 canned goods from the store. I would never do that even if we are poor.”

Jason and his father were still crying when the police officers said, “You have to come with us, Jason, the owner of the store is in the office. You try your best to talk with her. Okay?”

Jason, thin, lanky, with old and tattered uniform, old shoes, rose and followed the police officers.

In the office, the owner of the store who saw how shabbily dressed Jason was, started calling names. “Thief, thief, a family of thieves! You are just the same as your father. You can never be trusted. I have been so kind to your father and yet he can do this to me? Thief, thief, a family of thieves!” The owner of the store was shouting at the top of her voice and made sure that everyone even those who were outside heard her. She acted up some more when she saw that there were many students who were eavesdropping by the window of the police office. The students followed Jason to the police station because they were very much concerned on what may happen to Jason and his father.

Jason froze in shame. Outside the window he could see his classmates and his friends. “What would be left of me after this incident? What face could I show in school? How could I face my classmates and friends? Will they still believe in me?” Jason was full of words in his mind. He was completely speechless.

“Jason, Jason!” the police officer was calling his name.

“I’m sorry, Sir, what is the question?” Jason was completely lost.

“Do you have anything to say to the owner of the store?” added the police officer.

Jason started to cry. “I don’t know how I can help my father. How much did he steal? I don’t even have a single penny in my pocket. We are a very poor family. My father earns by cleaning the yards of the rich people. They would give him thirty pesos or sometimes fifty pesos and that would be just enough for us for the day. I work every Saturday and Sunday so that I can help my father with our other expenses. You see, my father is not completely of sound mind. He sometimes gets confused, but he is a very good man. He even goes to church everyday and cleans the church every Saturday. Please believe me. We are not a family of thieves. My father said that he did not get those 2 canned goods. Please believe him.”

The owner of the store was not to be put off with the explanation of Jason. She still called him names and she continued to complain to the police officer and insisted that the father of Jason be imprisoned. She would file the complaint and she would make sure that he goes to jail.

Jason cried and knelt before the owner of the store. “Please forgive my father. He is not a thief!” Jason’s voice was almost like a whisper because his sobs were louder.

Just then, someone opened the door of the office.

“Mother, what are you doing? Why are you accusing my friend, Jason, and his father of such things? Don’t you know who helps me with all my schoolwork? Don’t you know who helps me with my assignments? Don’t you know who cleans our yard for free?”

The owner of the store was shocked. This time she just opened her mouth, and no words came out.

“Do not judge people so fast, Mother. Jason is my good friend, and he has helped me a lot in all my schoolwork. His father cleans our yard every Saturday for free. What are you complaining about? The 2 canned goods? Is it even enough payment for all that they have done to us? Oh, Mother, I am so ashamed,” then the son was starting to leave the office.

This time, it was the owner who was crying so loud that everyone in the police station and those outside heard her. “My son, my son, please come back. I am sorry. Please come back. Please forgive me.”

“Say that to Jason and his father! You ask for their forgiveness not from me, Mother!”

“I’m sorry Jason. I am so full of pride. I did not know that you have been helping my son through these years. I am very sorry. Please forgive me for calling you and your father names. Please forgive me for imputing a crime upon your father. I’m sorry!” The mother seemed sincerely moved by the revelation of his son.

“It’s okay, Madame! My father and I are used with how people like you treat us. We do not take that against you. We are blessed to have many friends like your son who would always be by our side when we need them most. We forgive you and we don’t hold grudges. Thank you, Madame!”

The police officer released the father of Jason who was still crying when he saw Jason.

The drama in the police station that day sent a strong message to all those who heard the story. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2