Thursday, July 02, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: Hospitality 4


It was said of an old man that he dwelt in Syria on the way to the desert. This was his work: whenever a monk came from the desert, he gave him refreshment with all his heart. Now one day a hermit came and he offered him refreshment. The other did not want to accept it, saying he was fasting. Filled with sorrow, the old man said to him, "Do not despise your servant, I beg you, do not despise me, but let us pray together. Look at the tree which is here; we will follow the way of whichever of us causes it to bend when he kneels on the ground and prays." So the hermit knelt down to pray and nothing happened. Then the hospitable one knelt down and at once the tree bent towards him. Taught by this, they gave thanks to God.

Some thoughts:

As much as it was a duty to offer hospitality it was an equally sacred obligation to accept it when offered. Did the tree really bend? Possibly a wind caused it to bow. But what providential timing, if so. The post-modern mind has trouble conceiving that God would act contrary to natural law. OTOH, who created natural law if not God? Natural law is as much His servant as are we. I digress. Please forgive me.

What a witness, though, is this bending tree to the mutuality of holy hospitality. IMO we of Christendom need to reclaim, renew rededicate ourselves to hospitality. "They are known by their love." Hospitality is how we demonstrate love of God and neighbor.


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