BEING BLESSED BY GIVING

A monk had a brother living in the world who was poor, and so he supplied him with all he received from his work. But the more the monk supplied, the poorer the brother became. So the monk went to tell an old man about it. The old man said to him, “If you want my advice, do not give him anything more, but say to him, ‘Brother, when I had something I supplied you; now bring me what you get from your work.’ Take all he brings you, and whenever you see a stranger or a poor man, give him some of it, begging him to pray for him.”

The monk went away and did this. When his secular brother came, he spoke to him as the old man had said, and the brother went sadly away. The first day, taking some vegetables from his field, he brought them to the monk. The monk took them and gave them to the old men, begging them to pray for his brother, and after the blessing he returned home. In the same way, another time, the brother brought the monk some vegetables and three loaves, which he took, doing as on the first occasion, and having received the blessing he went away.

And the secular brother came a third time bringing many provisions, some bread, and fish. Seeing this, the monk was full of wonder, and he invited the poor so as to give them refreshment. Then he said to his brother, “Do you not need a little bread?” The other said to him, “No, for when I used to receive something from you, it was like fire coming into my house and burning it, but now that I receive nothing from you, God blesses me.”

Then the monk went to tell the old man all that had happened, and the old man said to him, “Do you not know that the work of the monk is of fire, and where it enters, it burns? It helps your brother more to do alms with what he reaps from his field, and to receive the prayers of the saints and thus to be blessed.”

Source | Sr. Benedicta Ward, The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
(Oxford: SLG Press, 1986), pages 43-44

CONSIDER THIS

Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises. One very common disguise is the art of giving generously and without counting the cost.

STONE SOUP

Once upon a time a monk wandered into a poverty stricken village and asked for shelter for the night. “There’s nothing to eat here,” the villagers told him, “you’d better move on!”

“I have enough here to make soup for all of us,”  the holy monk replied, “if I could just borrow a large pot.” Curious, the villagers produced a pot and stood around watching as the monk filled it with water and built a small fire underneath. He then took three round stones from a small bag he carried on his shoulder  and dropped them into the water.

As the water came to the boil the monk sniffed it hungrily saying, “I do love stone soup, but if I just had a little cabbage it would taste even better!” At this, one of the villagers disappeared returning a few minutes later with a cabbage he has been hiding and put it into the pot.

A while later the monk tasted the soup and said “Hmm, this is good, but a couple of carrots would make better still.” Again a villager produced a bunch of carrots and so it went on as potatoes, onions, mushrooms and a bit of salt beef were all added to the pot until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

For more information on this story go to Stone Soup

PONDER

There are many versions of this old story, but the message is the same. We all have a contribution to make and by sharing our gifts and resources our own lives are enriched.

  • What are your gifts and your talents?
  • What is your contribution that can make a difference?