The Word of God

Victor’s Fable

baby being wrapped in cloth

“Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.” G. K. Chesterton

A young woman gave birth to her first child just one month after her husband died in a tragic accident. The neighbors, deeply concerned over the plight of the poor young widow, held a shower for the baby. Each person brought a beautiful present to help the mother and child get started in life. When all of the gifts were opened, the mother wept. “Thank you for your wonderful support,” she said, brushing back her tears. “You have made a most difficult time easier. Next Sunday my son will be baptized. I have decided to name him Victor after his father.”

When all of the guests had left, the young widow heard a knock on the door. She opened it to find an old man who lived in the corner house by himself. Everyone called him Doc Burns, though he wasn’t really a doctor in the accepted, normal sense. Few people ever talked to the reclusive old man, though he often waved at the widow as she walked past his home.

“I have come to give you my gift for your young son,” he said softly. “Mine is a different kind of gift from the others you have received. I have come to offer you one wish for young Victor. It may be anything that you want. You must make the wish before the child is baptized on Sunday.” Having concluded, the little man bowed and walked back to his house on the corner.

The young mother was baffled by the words of her strange little friend. Did he really have the power to grant a wish?” What should she ask for? All week long she could not make up her mind. Finally, as they walked forward to the baptismal font, she whispered in the infant’s ear, “I wish that everyone in the world will love my Victor.”

And the wish came true. Victor grew up to be a handsome little boy. As a toddler, people could not resist hugging and touching him. Even when he was naughty, no one could believe that he had done anything wrong. As he grew older and much more handsome, Victor became known and loved throughout the little town in which he and his mother lived. He was always given food and toys by other children. If his mother scolded or punished him, the adults would insist that she was being too harsh to such a wonderful child. Victor would often respond to all this attention by treating people with scorn and contempt. Still, they seemed to adore him. Only in his occasional talks with Doc Burns did he listen to anyone.

When Victor graduated from high school, he was given a scholarship to a college far from his childhood home. At Christmas, when he retuned home for a visit for the first time, he drove up in a beautiful black expensive car. His trunks were filled with fine clothes, and he had plenty of spending money. He seldom saw his mother during vacation. He spent his nights out drinking at parties and bars.

After college Victor never worked but continued to live a life of ease. There was no pleasure he did not experience and there was no vice that did not have his name on it. Even though women smothered him with attention and friends raved about him, his heart grew empty and his soul sick and dark. He despised people who catered to him. He was disgusted with everything and everyone.

One night Victor decided to commit suicide. He withdrew to his bedroom where he mixed a powerful poison in a glass of wine and lifted it to his lips. Just as he was about to drink it, Doc Burns rushed through the door and knocked the glass from his hand.” Good evening, Victor. It has been a long time since we have had a chance to talk,” the old man said softly. “You seem to be overwhelmed by your life of comfort and thoughtlessness. I am sorry it has been such a meaningless existence for you. I suppose I am the one responsible for your misery. I fulfilled your mother’s wish on the day of your baptism, even though it was a foolish one. Suppose I now offer you a new wish? Make it anything you want, and I will fulfill it.”

“I don’t think you can give me anything that I haven’t already had,” Victor said sadly. “Think again, my son,” the wise old man gently whispered. “Make another wish for my sake, and for the sake of your aging mother.” Victor then closed his eyes and thought for several minutes. Finally, he spoke through his tears. “Take away the old magic and give me a new wish. Rather than being loved, I ask for the ability to love everyone in the world.” Now that was amazingly good and wonderful,” Doc Burns said, as he embraced the sobbing young man. “Now things will go much better for you.”

And, as if the old man had rightly predicted, life did turn around for Victor, but not right away. Without his great charm, he began to be abandoned by his friends. Several people retaliated against him for the past wrongs he had inflicted on them throughout these past years. He was thrown into jail for three months to pay for debts that he could no longer weasel his way out of payment. While he was there, no one came to visit him. When he was finally released, he was sick, lonely, and penniless. He returned home to nurse his dying mother. For the first time in his life, he was able to return the great love.

After his mother’s recovery, Victor took a job as a janitor in an elementary school in his old hometown. He not only cared for clean floors but for the children, particularly those who came from poor families and homes. To all the children, he became,” Mr. Victor,” their friend, companion and ever-present counselor.

Finally, he met a beautiful young widow who had two small children. They married and he gave all three of them the love that they so desperately needed. Poor in possession, Victor was one of the richest men in the world.

Do you know Victor?

“This is the secret of life: the self lives only by dying, finds its identity (and its happiness) only by self-forgetfulness, self-giving, self-sacrifice, and agape love.” Peter Kreeft

Share your thoughts (18 thoughts)

18 thoughts on “Victor’s Fable”

  • Deborah says:

    Thank you for another touching story. I always remember you telling us to be careful for what we ask for. I try to remember that when I’m wanted something. Looking forward to another get article.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you so very much, Deborah! I pray you and all your family are currently enjoying a powerful Lenten Season.

  • Kristen says:

    There’s a Victor in all of us. Surrounded by materialistic prizes being heavily pressed into our minds, we are conditioned to absorb that in which simply dissolves once a new prize is presented to us. Whether it be a new car, a new purse, a new suit, a new phone – we take and take and take until the adrenaline dissipates; and it does… And we are left wondering why we spent so much time loving superficial fulfillment, and not enough time loving or appreciating the value within ourselves and each other. This story had me replaying my whole life, rewinding every second of every day in my compartmentalized memory. All the toys and clothes and “things” I could ever ask for; I wanted for nothing and everything all at once. Growing up, I continued to work hard and stress over job security, so I could continue to fulfill my desires to have new things. My relationships suffered, my mental and emotional states suffered, my spiritual self suffered, until the shiniest toy in the world couldn’t satisfy me. I longed for the comfort of my mother’s arms and the stillness and sanctity within my room in this too-big house. I found myself retreating to peace and quiet to regain my focus and advert my attention to what always managed to keep me sane during the stress: prayer and tears. I cried a lot even though I had everything I ever needed. It wasn’t until I almost lost it all that God showed me I never needed any of that; I needed Him and my family’s love. I no longer felt a manic urge to buy this and buy that and have this friend and that attention. I was given a second chance to breathe and refocus my sights on the worth beneath the blanket of financial and social wealth. I give and give and give to others just to see the smile on their faces and it gives me a joy no shiny toy could ever bring. I guess you can say I’m evolving into a “Mr. Victor,” myself.

    • Caro says:

      How beautiful, Kristen! Once again we have yet another outstanding perspective on the meaning behind the fable within the fable in our most recent post. Thank you so much for that and for sharing such deep insights with all of our readers. I think we can all agree that all of us want to be happy. We might even argue that nearly everything we do, whether it’s working, marrying, running, or even filing our taxes is done with an overarching purpose: To feel happier. Now, it’s not that we particularly enjoy all of these activities for their own sake, even though we might (and for some, we certainly should), but that we want to create certain feelings: Passion, excitement, purpose, love, excitement, relief, or any other emotion that makes us, well, happy. Sadly, most people fail in their quest for happiness for one simple reason: They seek it where there is nothing to be found. Empty success, shallow pleasures, and immediate gratification seem to dominate our culture more and more, and so it’s great that we could stop for a while and consider, as you so wonderfully pointed out, that we are all, somehow, and someway, “evolving into a Mr. Victor” ourselves.

  • Anthony Montez says:

    This beautiful story brings to mind the prayer of Saint Francis. It also reminded me of a text I received one day from my daughter who was a college junior at the time. Her text read “this sociology class I’m in makes me hate the world.” I figured she doesn’t find the professor very likable or maybe she’s not happy being surrounded with certain classmates. I lightheartedly texted her back, “creation is good sayith the Lord.” To my surprise I got a rare second text from her saying, “I know dad but there’s these systems that are deliberately designed to be unfair to almost everyone except a very few. I thought “my baby girl is getting a taste of the unfairness in the world.” I better respond to her in a more fatherly prudent manner. I texted her that her distress is a consequence of exposure to events in the world that are inconsistent with our Godly call to love one another and inconsistent with all that is good in the world. We don’t have to look far to find evil in the world but like the sun we cannot stare at it because we will be overwhelmed. I reminded her that every vice and crime that distresses her existed when Jesus walked the earth. Had he come to fix all those things they would not exist today. I reminded her that the light that illuminates her good path can never be extinguished and Jesus is the light that no amount of darkness can ever overwhelm. So we start with the person in the mirror. Is that person good-not perfect-but genuinely pleasing in the eyes of God. As best I can figure with my own human limitations the answer is YES! You are genuinely a good person. How can you share of your goodness in your own backyard? That is how we contribute to goodness in the world. That is how we make the world better. My daughter texted me back, “That’s just what I needed to hear.”

    • Caro says:

      What a brilliant sub-post to “Victor’s Fable,” Dr. Montez, and with that, another slice of remarkable living that emanates from your ongoing family journey that continues to unfold for the betterment of all of our readers. Contributing to the goodness of this world is our best chance of making any kind of meaningful change that we want to see. It also reminds me of an interesting passage that I have read in several texts over the past 25 years or so:

      “The Seven Social Sins are:

      Wealth without work.
      Pleasure without conscience.
      Knowledge without character.
      Commerce without morality.
      Science without humanity.
      Worship without sacrifice.
      Politics without principle.”

      From a sermon given by Frederick Lewis Donaldson in Westminster Abbey, London, on March 20, 1925.”

  • Julie Trevino says:

    Another great story! Thank you for this fable.
    First of all, I’ve always said, be careful what you ask for. Second of all, we all know, Faith, Hope and Love…but the greatest of these is Love.
    True happiness does come from giving. I’m inspired by Saint Mother Teresa, who said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

    • Caro says:

      Although I had not previously thought about that angle, it sure does make sense: “be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.” Perhaps when we ask the right question, we receive the right answer especially when it comes to the spiritual life. Ask for Jesus. Receive Jesus.

  • Ron says:

    The essence of this story is about the balance of love – receiving it and giving it. When determining how to balance the scale, I go back to the saying that it is better to give than to receive. I love the smile, and sometimes surprised look, I see on the face of others when they have received an unexpected gift. Oftentimes it is the gesture, not the gift, that means the most. I think about when my wife brings me my coffee or remembers a certain snack I like that I can take to work and enjoy after lunch. Or the simple offer from my kids to take out the trash or fold the clothes fresh out of the dryer. They’re small tokens that mean a lot to me. The gesture means they care and that is more important than the gift, for sure. The world can be a cold place but the kind gift of love can warm even the most frigid spot.
    “To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

    • Caro says:

      Welcome back, Ron, and thanks again for gracing our pages with your response to our latest offering, “Victor’s Fable.” I loved your mention of the simple favors which those we love offer us to remind us of the spontaneity of life and love and thereby bring to life the balance of which you wrote. The idea behind balance and love is that we create a life that prioritizes BALANCE. Once this happens, we have created a life of both balance and love. Why love? When we create balance, we feel more love in our lives. Not just from others, but from ourselves because when we love what we are doing, we are happier and can experience self-love, which is definitely sanity, not vanity. Your quote from Mother Teresa tied it all together. Let me end with another one: “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?”

  • Veronica Leal Altamirano says:

    I read and reread these beautiful words “Rather than being loved, I ask for the ability to love everyone in the world.” When we finally come to this place in our lives, I feel that we’ve gotten closer to God. We’ve learned that peace and joy are the true happiness in this world because it’s in our actions of love to others that we imitate Him. The more we can imitate His love for all, regardless of our differences, the better we will be and this world will be.

    • Caro says:

      Thank you again, Veronica, for sharing your thoughts with all of us. I am sure that you would agree that in this life we’ve learned that true happiness comes from giving. Helping others along the way makes us evaluate who we are. True and sincere love is what we’re all searching for. I haven’t come across anyone who didn’t become a better person through love. Happy Lent!

  • Gabriel Estrada says:

    The turning point in this story definitely speaks to me about the way things are supposed to be. It is not usually obvious in our early years, but as times progress things happen where people we thought would always be there go in different ways and the tragedies happen or visa versa. The only real way to survive is to love. It’s amazing to see what people become when they are given love and given the opportunity to share their love.

    • Caro says:

      You are so right, Gabriel, about the timing in life. It is certainly not as we expected it to be–but often how it should be, according to God’s remarkably ineffable and wonderful plan. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

  • Thank you for this beautiful article/reflection! There is nothing more rewarding than a life of service of oneself. Through it, one truly experiences the simple pleasures of life…, love, and joy. The face of Jesus comes to life through those whom we joyfully serve.
    Again, thank you!

    • Caro says:

      Thank you, Sandy, for your comments. For those who may not know you, the reflection you provided perfectly fits the essence of how you live your life: with rewarding joy in serving others. God bless you always!

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