Two angels in heaven were arguing about the souls on earth. One, a pessimist, felt that all souls were selfish and unworthy of redemption. The other, an optimist felt that they were good and kind. After much arguing, the two made a bet. The angel who felt people were selfish bet that the optimist couldn’t find three good, kind people in three days.
Disguising himself as a beggar, the optimist came down to earth wandering from town to town. He came to a small village where he heard of three brothers whose parents had died and left the boys a farm outside of town, which had a pear tree. The fruit from this tree fed them and also brought a good price in the market. The angel arrived at their home and asked the eldest brother if he could spare some fruit for a hungry man.
The brother looked at the man and said “this tree belongs not only to me but to my brothers. But here is the pear I would have had for lunch. You take it.”
The angel took the pear and thought him to be a good and kind man.
The next day, the angel visited the home again. This time, the middle brother was watching the tree. Once again, he asked for some fruit from the tree. The middle brother told the angel that this tree belonged to his brothers too. But he offered the beggar his share instead.
Pleased that the angel found two good souls, on the third day he visited the house again. This time, he asked the youngest brother, who like his other siblings offered his share.
The angel was delighted. Not only had he found three good people in three days, they came from the same family. He decided to reward the brothers for their kind gesture.
The next morning, the angel appeared at their house, this time as a wealthy merchant. The brothers were amazed at the man standing at their door. The stranger asked them to take a walk through the countryside with him. He promised the boys that their fields and pear tree would be well cared for while they were away.
While on their walk, the angel asked the eldest brother to make his best wish. The young man pointed to the sun-filled meadow and he wished it were a vineyard and that he had a winery and many servants who called him master. The angel tapped his staff and vines with grapes filled the valley. As the young man walked toward his new life, the angel called out “Remember God’s poor people.”
He then took the two remaining brothers to an open pasture filled with blackbirds. He asked the middle brother to make a wish. The boy wished that the birds were sheep. He wished he had a mill in the valley and was a wealthy wool merchant with many servants. Upon tapping his staff, the middle brother received all that he wished for. As the middle brother walked toward his new life, the angel called out “Remember God’s poor.”
The angel then took the last brother to the top of a mountain, filled with valleys, oceans, and forests. He asked the young boy to make his best wish. The young man looked around and then turned to the angel, humbly asking him for someone to love me for who I am.
The angel, stunned, told the boy that this is a rare wish. The angel had to refer to his book to see what he could do, to which he then answered: “There are only three women in the world who could love you for who you are. Two are married. We’d better hurry to the third.”
The pair then arrived at the court of a king whose daughter was set to be wed shortly. “Your majesty, I have brought a suitor for your daughter,” the angel said.
The king, stunned, replied: “Another? I have a king, two princes and a sultan in the next room. How can I pick the right man?”
“Your majesty, I have a solution. In your garden, you have five olive trees. Cut a branch from each one and plant them in a row. On each branch, tie the name of one suitor. Tomorrow, the branch that bears fruit will also bear the name you seek.”
The king was happy with this idea. Upon inspecting the branches the next morning, he saw that 4 of the 5 branches were dried and withered, but the branch with the young farmer’s name was alive and bore fruit. The farmer rejoiced and the princess and he were married soon after. The angel took them away to a small cottage at the edge of the woods and told them both: “Remember God’s poor.”
One year later the angel decided to see how the three brothers were doing. Disguising himself as a beggar the angel visited the oldest brother’s vineyards. He knocked on the door and said: “Please sir, a taste of wine for a thirsty man.”
“Away with you, ” the brother shouted, “or I’ll set my dogs on you if you don’t leave at once.”
The angel tapped his staff and all of the man’s mill disappeared. “Go back to your pear tree. You forgot God’s poor.”
Finally, the angel walked up the path to the little cottage at the edge of the woods and knocked on the door. “Please sir, do you have some bread for a hungry man?”
The young man replied: “We don’t have much, but what we have is yours.”
The young couple offered bread and soup to the old man. They then proceeded to offer him some water, apologizing that they had nothing better to offer him. But as they poured a glass for the angel, sweet wine flowed.
The angel took the young couple by the hand and led them to the top of a hill overlooking rows of pear trees and a beautiful house. “This is for you and your children,” the angel said, “Because you remembered God’s poor.”