Divine Retribution

This column is about divine retribution, so you have been fairly forewarned if you decide to continue reading.

It has become increasingly difficult to schedule a time where my wife and I and our three boys can all attend the same Mass together. Swimming lessons, Lector schedules, alter server schedules, Eucharistic minister schedules, work shifts, air cadet activities, football games, and time set aside for sleeping in on Sunday mornings all make it difficult to coordinate the whole family to attend the same Mass on any given weekend.

Thus, I am greatly saddened to report that I was not personally present to witness what happened to my wife after Mass a couple of weekends ago.

Our priest approached my wife and told her that someone had geese to donate to our local food bank. He thought that, with Christmas dinner preparations underway for some, families in need in our community would benefit from being the recipient of a Christmas goose.

After Mass, my wife and our priest went to receive the donation from the man with the geese. He presented them with a green garbage bag and drove off. My wife assumed the bag contained goose meat in individually wrapped parcels of cleaned, neatly packed filets such as one would find at the local grocery store. She poked her head inside the bag only to discover that the bag was full of the corpses of dead geese, feathers and all.

If God were a kind God to humor writers, he would have provided me the opportunity to witness what transpired next. According to my wife, she removed her head from the bag, screamed in the only way a woman who has been face-to-face with a bag full of dead geese can scream, and said to our priest, “I don’t want anything to do with them!” and strode off in a huff.

Our priest proceeded to take the geese in the bag and went to Sunday dinner with some friends. He recounted the tale of the geese and my wife and the food bank (now bereft of Christmas geese). They decided that the best thing to do was to bury the geese in the yard. Mission accomplished.

Shortly thereafter, another friend showed up who happened to be a hunter and said that the geese should not have been buried. He suggested the geese be dug up and plucked and dressed and cooked and eaten for Christmas. So the dead geese were dug up and have now been prepared for needy families for Christmas dinner after all.

I am certain that you are wondering what the preceding story has to do with divine retribution. Well, now we get to the “rest of the story.”

Many, many years ago when my wife was a child (I wanted to add another “many” but my wife frowned ominously at me when I had three “manys”), my wife presented her mother with a unique Mother’s day gift.

On this special day set aside to honor our mothers with our heartfelt gifts of poems, coloured-in hearts, and half-eaten chocolate bars, my future wife presented her mother with the tail of a rat.

And I am not talking about some fake rubberized rat’s tail. My wife gave her mother the genuine article. How my wife came to be in the possession of a rat’s tail is a mystery. But if you put your ear to the ground, you can still hear the scream of my mother-in-law reverberating in the earth.

So this is where the divine retribution comes into play. My wife and I are firm believers in charity. We know that what we donate in charity will in some way come back to us multiplied. And Jesus said that we must forgive transgressors, not seven times, but seven times seventy times. I figure that my wife got her comeuppance for the rat tail incident some seven times seven hundred times when she stuck her head in that bag of dead geese.

What goes around comes around.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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