One day an angel in shining, white robes with white wings and a golden halo appeared in the public square of a little town and announced, "In three days time a visitor shall be coming to your town. When they arrive you should make them welcome".
But before the townsfolk could ask anything about who the visitor was, the angel disappeared.
All the same, people in the town became very excited.
"It must be a king", people said, "Or a famous person; perhaps the prime minister".
And the next day, under the instruction of the town mayor, the towns people started hanging up decorations and bunting and a big banner that said, "Welcome to our town" while the towns amateur brass band practiced some grand music to welcome the visitor and the towns butcher and baker suplied pies and cakes to be eaten by the visitor and the town officials.
And then, when three days had passed, everyone in the town waited, expectantly for the great visitor to arrive.
But the only person they saw entering the village was an old, ragged beggar.
"Here you", shouted the town Mayor, seeing him, "Clear off. Don't you know we're expecting an important visitor".
"But I'm only looking for a crust of bread sir and water and perhaps a place to sleep for the night", said the beggar.
"No, no", said the mayor, "You can't stay here. What if the important visitor were to see you? He might get a very bad impression of our town; think that its full of vagrants and neerdowells. No, go on be off with you".
And when he said this all the local people, like the butcher and the baker, the candlestick maker and their wives started to shout at the beggar too.
"Clear off", they shouted, "We don't want your sort here".
"Well then perhaps just the bread and water and then I'll be on my way I swear", pleaded the beggar.
But now the local police sergeant spoke to the man.
"Now look", he said, "Well have no trouble here, understand?".
"But I wasn't going to be any trouble, sir", said the beggar.
For some reason, however, this did not satisfy the police sergeant and, taking his handcuffs from his belt he said,
"Right thats it. You've been warned but now I'm going to have to arrest you for being a public nuisance".
Just as the policeman was about to seize the beggar by the arm, however, the beggar threw off his ragged robes and revealed himself to be none other than the angel who had visited them earlier.
"So this is how you treat a visitor is it", he said.
Seeing that it was the angel, the Mayor, the Sergeant and all the townsfolk sank humbly to their knees.
"We're sorry", said the Mayor, "We hadn't a clue it was you, honestly. We thought it was just some dirty old beggar".
"And what if it was?", said the angel, "Is a beggar not a human being deserving of respect and kindness just as much as yourself".
"Oh yes sir", said both the Mayor and the Sergeant worrying about the safety of their souls.
"There was going to be a visitor coming, several vistors actually", said the angel, "But I wanted to find out how they would be recieved in your town and now I'm not so sure they should come to this town, not if it is as mean and uncaring as this".
"Oh but we won't be mean and uncaring to the visitors", said the mayor, "We swear, honestly. Let them come and we'll treat them with the respect they deserve".
"Very well then", said the angel.
And then, turning around, the angel said, "Come along children".
Then, all at once a big group of poor and ragged and very hungry looking children came into the village and the Mayor, realizing that they must be the visitors, welcomed them to the town and told them to help themselves to all the cakes and pies that had been prepared by the butcher and the baker and, instead of some grand piece of music, the brass band played some happy melodies for children to dance to.
Infact they had a wonderful party and the children were so lovely and everyone had so much fun that the townsfolk were left wondering why they had been so mean and uncaring.
And from that day on the people of the town were never mean and uncaring to strangers who came to the town, even the poorest and always gave them the same respect that they would expect to recieve themselves.