Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
A young man owned a bakery in a small town. Every week he would purchase butter from a nearby farmer. One day the baker suspected that he was being short changed. He questioned whether each brick of butter was a full pound.
For several days he weighed each brick. Sure enough! Each brick were short an ounce and a half. So, the baker sued the farmer.
At the trial the judge said to the farmer, “I presume that you have a scale to weigh the butter.” “No, your honor I do not.” “Well, then, how do you manage to weigh the butter yourself?”
“Well, your honor, I have a balance scale. One one side I place the butter. On the other side I place a one pound loaf of bread that I buy from the baker.” (Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.)
Mr. Elmer Kelen, a Budapest millionaire, commissioned a young Hungarian artist, Arpad Sebesy, to paint his portrait. Mr. Kelen spent only a few minutes posing for the artist. Sebesy had to paint from memory. Sebesy actually thought that the painting was quite good.
Arpad Sebesy contacted Mr. Kelen to view his portrait. When Kelen looked at it, he shouted, “That’s a rotten portrait, and I refuse to pay for it.” Kelen charged out of the studio, cursing Arpad Sebesy for such a disgraceful portrait.
Sebesy followed Kelen down the street shouting, “Wait a minute, sir. Wait a minute.” Kelen stopped in his tracks. Sebesy begged him, “Sir, will you give me a letter saying that you refused the portrait because it didn’t resemble you?” Kelen gladly complied.
A few months later the Society of Hungarian Artists opened an exhibition at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Budapest. Arpad Sebesy displayed some of his art work at the gallery.
It didn’t take long before Kelen received a phone call from a friend. The friend told him that there was a painting hanging in the gallery that very much resembled him. Kelen rushed to the gallery and head for the wing where Sebesy’s paintings were on display. Sure, enough, there hung the painting that he had commissioned and rejected.
He glanced at the title of the painting and became furious. He stormed into the office of the gallery manager. He demanded that the portrait be removed at once. The manager explained quietly that all the paintings were under contract. Each painting must remain in the gallery for the six-week duration of the exhibit.
Kelen became unglued. He angrily shouted at the manager that the painting will make him the laughing stock of Budapest. He said, “It’s libelous. I’ll sue.”
“Just a moment,” said the manager as he opened the letter which Kelen had written at Sebesy’s request. “Since you yourself admitted that the painting does not resemble you, you have no jurisdiction over its fate.”
Kelen admitted he wrote the letter in which he claimed that the painting had no resemblance to him. Now he was anxious to buy the painting. However, he discovered that the current price was ten times that of the original figure. He regretfully paid the inflated price hoping to salvage his reputation.
Not only did Sebesy sell the rejected portrait to the man who had commissioned it, but he achieved his revenge simply by exhibiting it with the title: ‘Portrait of a Thief.’
(Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.)
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R