I heard this story on a BBC radio program.
In the tiny village of Glaslough, Ireland, populated by a few hundred people, there lived a man called Patrick. One day, Patrick lost his favourite bicycle and was completely heartbroken. The village policeman tried his best to trace the missing bicycle, but to no avail.
Like most Irishmen, Patrick was quite a religious person and never missed the Sunday sermon at the local Church. On one such visit, he narrated his tale of woe and misery to Father Murphy who was the chief pastor.
Father Murphy was quite sympathetic and told Patrick not to lose hope. He would nab the culprit . His game plan was this. The following Sunday, he would deliver to his entire congregation a moving sermon on the Ten Commandments, which would be loaded with enough punch to inspire and motivate even the most stone-hearted . He would enumerate the commandments in the same order that God handed over to Moses on Mount Sinai. By the time he came down to the seventh commandment, namely, “Thou shalt not steal “, the bicycle thief would be so guilt-ridden and have his vitals so gnawed by remorse, that he would stick out in the crowd. Patrick had to just watch out for the guy who had the furtive look when Father Murphy read out the seventh commandment.
Sure enough, there was a big gathering on Sunday and Father Murphy, true to his word, gave it the works. Some say that he delivered the best sermon ever heard in Glaslough, for a long, long time. He placed particular emphasis on the seventh commandment, pausing there an extra second, for added effect.
At the end of the sermon, Father Murphy came down the pulpit and asked Patrick eagerly, “ Did you spot the thief ?”
Patrick smiled sheepishly and replied, “ No Father, I didn’t have to wait till the seventh commandment. When you had reached the sixth commandment, namely, - 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' - I remembered where I had parked my bicycle”.