Just like every Sunday morning, Fr. Nicolas left his house prepared for serving the Divine Liturgy. As he was approaching the church, in his thoughts he went through the spiritual topics, wandering which of them to choose for his Sunday sermon. Fully encompassed by the contemplation as to what he should say to his parishioners, he almost bumped into a small boy coming from the opposite side. The boy was holding an old, rusted and twisted birdcage, were three little wild birds were shivering with cold and fright.
– What have you got there, in the cage, son?
– Just some old birds – came the reply.
– What are you gonna do with them? – asked the priest.
– I will take them home and have fun with them. I’m gonna tease them and pull out their feathers to make them fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.
– But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?
“Oh, I got some cats. They like birds. I’ll take them to them.”
The priest was silent for a moment.
– How much do you want for those birds, son?
– Huh??!!! Why, you don’t want these birds, mister. They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing – they aren’t even pretty!
– How much?
The boy sized up Fr. Nicolas as if he were crazy and agreed
– Ok, give me 10 dollars.
The priest reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone, leaving the twisted birdcage on the ground. Fr. Nicolas picked it up and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Making sure that there were no cats around, he slowly opened the small door. At first the birds just stood there frozen by fear, but after a while they took courage and flew out of the cage to freedom. The father took the cage, now certain as to what he was going to preach about. Right after the Gospel he showed his parishioners the empty birdcage. Then he started his moral:
– The cunning devil set up his nets and caught inside all the people. Glowing with delight he went to Christ to brag about it.
– You should know, I just caught the world full of people down there. Placed a trap, used a bait and they just couldn’t resist. Now they are mine!
– What are you going to do with them? – Jesus asked.
– Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other. How to hate and abuse each other. How to drink and smoke and curse. How to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!
– And what will you do when you get done with them? – Jesus asked.
– Oh, I’ll just kill them.
– How much do you want for them?
– Oh, You don’t want those people – said the devil, trying to persuade Christ. – They aren’t good at all. Why, You will save them and they’ll just hate You. They’ll spit on You, curse You and kill You!! Believe me, You don’t want those people!!
– How much?
Satan looked at Jesus and sneered.
– All your tears, and all your blood.
And Jesus paid the price.