There’s a folktale about a young man who aspired to great holiness. After working some time to achieve it, he went to see his village priest.
"Father," he announced, "I think I’ve achieved sanctity."
"How so?" asked the priest.
"Well," answered the young man, "I’ve been practicing virtue and discipline for some time now, and I’ve become quite proficient at them. From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water. All day, I do hard work and sacrifice for others.
"If I have temptations of the flesh, I roll in thorn bushes or in sorrow. And at night, before bed, I practice the ancient monastic discipline and administer lashes to my bare back."
The priest was silent for a time gazing out a window. Slowly he turned toward the young man and pointed out the window to a mule hauling a tinker’s wagon.
"I’ve been watching that mule pull that wagon," said the priest. "It doesn’t get fed or watered from morning to night. All day long it works hard for people. Sometimes I’ve noticed it brushing against bushes or rolling in the snow when unharnessed, and I’ve frequently seen lashes of the whip strike its back.
But I ask you, "Is that a saint or a mule?"