He was a member of a gang of hoodlums and yet the friendship he had with a childhood friend continued even after the friend became a priest. They could always speak freely with each other. In his weekly column in the Catholic Times, the columnist recounts what he recently heard about the hoodlum from a diocesan priest, while having lunch in his rectory.
The priest said his friend came to see him to ask his advice about a current problem. He had lent a sizable sum of money to a man over ten years ago who, he now believes, intended to defraud him of the money by going overseas and returning only after the statute of limitations had run out, which it did recently. What the man did not expect on returning to Korea was to be arrested and incarcerated. The priest's friend was notified of the arrest and was afraid of what he would do when he met the prisoner, and came to his priest friend for advice.
The priest told him that since he didn't need the money he should tell the man that he could keep it, but from this day forward he must commit himself to living like a person who is going to meet his Maker. If he refuses, the priest advised him to tell the man that his children or grandchildren would then have to pay the debt.
The friend went to the police station and did exactly what his priest friend recommended. The police all thought he was crazy and laughed at what he said, but the prisoner didn't think it funny.
The prisoner had no religious beliefs but when he was told there was no need to repay the loan, he was so relieved that he genuflected before him. The prisoner did have some qualms of conscience for what he had done, and though now free to use the money as he pleased, on hearing the conditions for doing so, he decided he wasn't ready for such a profound personal change. Knowing also that if he did not repay the debt, his children or grandchildren would be made to pay was enough to make him return the money.
The priest's friend was not in need of the money, so he gave it all to charity. The bond of friendship between them, though unusual, was strong and sincere despite the very different paths they had taken in life. It was because of the trust they had in each other that convinced the friend to say and do what the priest had suggested, resolving an awkward situation.