An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the an three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.
An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
This happens yet again. The next evening, the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. soon the entire town is whispering about The Man Who Orders Three Beers.
Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. “I don’t mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers.”
“Tis odd, isn’t it?” the man replies. “You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”
The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon The Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.
Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening.
He orders only two beers… The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.
The next day, the bartender says to the man, “Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know – the two beers and all.”
The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent.”
One might wonder if The Man Who Orders Three Beers is heeding the exhortation of the Prophet Joel, “Return to me with your whole heart.”
Lent is 40 days, but a change of heart is meant to be for a lifetime.
May these 40 days of Lent 2016 lead us closer and closer to the lifetime of ongoing and increasing love of God, love of others and being faithful disciples.