After another awkward pause the judge’s voice rang out once more.
“If the defense is quite finished,” he cried, “then let the prosecution present its case.”
The brown and aged prophet stepped forward. At his side stood an angel robed in purest white.
“Let all who will come forward to bring charges against this defendant!” called the prophet. A sound like thunder followed, and I turned to see what had caused it. The entire congregation was on its feet.
And so they came. The blind and the lame, the halt and the crippled and the maimed, the homeless and marginalized, the friendless and the poor. One by one they all rose up and condemned me.
“I was hungry,” said one, “and you gave me nothing to eat.”
“I was thirsty,” said another, “and you gave me nothing to drink.”
“But I tried my best — ” I began.
“Objection!” cried the prophet. “To try is not enough!”
“Objection sustained!” ruled the judge. “Proceed.”
Some of my neighbors then took the stand.
“I was a stranger,” said one, “and you did not invite me in or speak to me.”
“I was naked,” said another, “and you did not clothe me; sick, and you failed to visit me.”
“But one can only do so much!” I protested.
“It is not enough,” said my neighbor.
“Your Honor, I object!” said I.
“Objection overruled!” the judge responded. “Proceed.”
My friends came forward then. One by one they took the stand.
“I was in need, and you did not help me,” said one.
“You failed to love me as you loved yourself,” said another.
“You were stubborn, selfish, insubordinate, ruled by vain opinions and imaginations,” added a third.
“I was in prison,” said another, “and you did not visit me.”
And so it went until at last the testimony of the final witness had been heard. Then the ancient prophet bowed his balding head and approached the table with great solemnity.
“Your Honor,” he began, “all that you have heard is but as nothing compared with what is to follow. For there remains yet one more witness whose testimony far outweighs the rest.”
“Who is this witness?” I feebly asked, sick with despair; for I half suspected the answer already, and sensed that my case was lost.
“It is yourself!” said the prophet, jabbing a withered, bony finger in my direction. “I adjure you now to take the stand and to speak truth this day in the presence of God and these witnesses!”
* * * * * * * *