“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (ESV)
I heard a legend about a monastery in the forest. The monks prayed, fasted, and did acts of kindness.
But the Abbot who ran the monastery was worried. They were getting smaller in number and the building was starting to fall apart.
So he went to see his wise old friend to see if he had any advice about how the monastery could be saved.
“I just don’t know,” he said. But as the Abbot went to leave, the wise old man stopped him: “Oh, just one more thing. I forgot to tell you that the Messiah is living amongst you.”
“What?!” The Abbot was surprised. They were awaiting the return of the Messiah, of Jesus, and they assumed they would recognize him. But could this be true that he was already living amongst them?
The Abbot returned to the monastery and told the monks. They wondered who it could be. Could it be brother Peter? His faith was strong, but he sometimes lost his temper. It couldn’t be him. Or could it? Or maybe it was brother Anthony. He was very patient and kind, but his breath was bad. Surely it couldn’t be him! Or could it?
Because they didn’t know who it was, the monks started treating each other with profound respect. Their words were full of humble and God-honouring truth. And their actions were full of love and self-sacrifice.
After all, any one of them could be the Messiah. And they all wanted to treat the Messiah well.
As always, tourists and visitors came to see the monastery. As they did, they noticed how things had changed—how they treated each other with great respect, with such truth and love.
It was so compelling that 3 of the young visitors wanted to stay. The next year that number doubled. Soon, the monastery was vibrant and thriving again.
The wise old man had told the Abbot that the Messiah was living amongst them. Perhaps the Abbot misunderstood his friend’s meaning…
But it was nevertheless true.
By Matthew Ruttan
- A version of this legend appears in the prologue to The Different Drum by Scott Peck