Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A giant of charity

On this July 1st, the Roman martyrology and the Byzantine synaxariums (liturgical calendars) commemorate Abba Moses the Ethiopian. This black man, vigorous and tall, was born in Ethiopia in 332. He was a violent nature. Author of several crimes, he fled human justice and arrived in the desert of Egypt. There, he experienced a radical conversion, he dedicated himself to monastic life, and became a disciple of the Desert Fathers, among whom Macarius the Great. Conscious of the mercy with which God had filled him, he became a model of humility, kindness and charity. John Cassian did not hesitate to call him "the greatest among all the saints."

This apophthegm(*) illustrates the merciful wisdom of Abba Moses:

One day, at Skete [region of the desert of Egypt where monastic communities were established and where also lived hermits], a brother committed a fault. They held a council to which Abba Moses was invited. But he refused to go. Then the priest sent someone who said to him: "Come, because everybody is waiting for you." So he got up and left. He took a leaky basket, filled it with sand and carried it. The others, going out to meet him, said to him "What is this, father?" The old man said, "My sins are spilling out behind me and I do not see them, and here I am today coming to judge the fault of another." Hearing this, they said nothing to the brother, but forgave him.


(*) The apophthegms are short sayings, words of wisdom, pronounced by the Desert Fathers. From the 5th century, these words were gathered in collections. They knew a considerable diffusion throughout Christendom and remain astonishingly relevant. Read, for instance: The Apophthegms of the Ancients: Being an Historical Collection of the Most Celebrated, Elegant, Pithy and Prudential Sayings of All the Illustrious Personages of Antiquity, Vol 1 and Vol. 2, Ulan Press, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment